Sir 6:5-17; Ps 119:12,16,18,27,34,35; Mk 10:1-12: When we delight in the path of the LORD’s commands, then we recognize that we have become his friends. The Lord Jesus is the friend of sinners. He ate and drank with the rejects of a religious nation. The crowds and the Pharisees spend most of their time trying to test the Lord Jesus, yet, he remains faithful to the Father’s will. He is the friend of sinners. This faithful friend teaches us his statues; we forget not his words. He opens our eyes so that we consider the wonders of his law. Christ provides us with an understanding of his precepts, and upon his law and his deeds we meditate day and night. The Lord Jesus gives us discernment so that we might observe his law and keep it with a whole heart. Indeed, this Divine Friend leads us in the path of his commands, and in this way we find our delight. Our first reading gives us the wisdom to discern our true friends and to keep a distance from those who only want to use us. Christ, the True Friend of sinners teaches us how to relate to those who praise us when convenient and test us all the time. At this Table Fellowship of God and sinners, we are nourished with wisdom and instructed in the way to find our true delight.
Friends are not to be seen in the cable TV reruns. A true friend lives in the fear of the LORD and wants us to behave accordingly. Our friends will be like ourselves, and they will find the delight of their hearts to follow the path of the Lord’s commands. Even in the time before Christ, the wisdom of God came from the mouth of Jesus Ben Sirach. This Jewish Sage taught what we still need to learn about friendship. By having a kind mouth we attract people and even our enemies admire us. Most of us live tit for tat, and we give back to others what they give to us. We do unto others what they do unto us. Such a mutual admiration situation is what the world counts for friendship. However, Sirach warns us to test our new friends; we are not to be too ready to trust our new friends. Quick and easy friends hang around when it is convenient and take a hike in times of distress. This new friend turned enemy will expose a quarrel to shame us. Too many friends are merely boon companions; they easily avoid you when their reputation is at stake. Sirach sums up his caution when he writes, “Keep away from your enemies; be on your guard with your friends.” Then he goes on to write some of the most beautiful wisdom ever uttered about friendship. A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter, and he provides a place for you abide in safety. A true friend is a treasure, and one might even sell all that he has to purchase such a treasure. However, there is no price that can be placed upon friendship. It’s not something one can purchase. When you have found a true friend you have come close to the Living God. Indeed, friendship mediates the presence of the LORD; a friend is a sacrament in which love is given and received, the very love that reveals the LORD, the friend of sinners.
From the beginning, the LORD intended for husband and wife to be one. This kind of friendship is necessary for every marriage. Such closeness could not end in divorce. A divorce would be cutting up a whole person, death for both. If a true unity is at the basis of a marriage, there is an indissoluble bond. As the Lord Jesus instructs those who have come to test him, the human heart has been too hard, even from the earliest days. We have refused to enter into the true friendship and true oneness of marriage as God intended it. This response to the Pharisees is too much for them and even for the disciples who have a difficult time handling the Master’s instructions. When they retire to a more private venue his closest friends question him further. The Lord Jesus doesn’t hold back, or back off, the severity of his teaching to the Pharisees and the crowd. As a matter of fact, his comment to the disciples is even more demanding. Adultery is the name of another marital relationship that begins after a divorce for both the man and the woman. If either attempts to marry another this creates another act of adultery. The disciples have joined the Pharisees and the crowd is testing the Lord Jesus, but he is the one who gives them a test. Are you faithful to your own origins as revealed in Genesis? Do you intend what God has intended from the beginning? What don’t you understand about an indissoluble bond? Today the wisdom of God seeks to serve us in two of the most basic human relationships, friendship, and marriage. Do we, who are joined in the unity of the Eucharist, have ears to hear the wisdom of God?