The International Day of Friendship was established in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.
There is a particular emphasis on involving young people, as future leaders, in community activities that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity. July 30th, International Friendship day, encourages us to cherish and cultivate as many warm relationships as possible, enriching our own lives and enhancing the future.
We all need friends. We need friends for companionship, support, challenge and growth, in good days and bad. In a surprise Ted Talk, April 25, 2017, Pope Francis urged: “Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other [person] is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The ‘you’ is always a real presence, a person to take care of.” The pope called for a “revolution of tenderness,” where we appreciate and value, reach out to, and love each other. The only way to have friends is to be a good friend.
Am I a good friend, and to who?
Jesus’ golden rule is : “Do to others as you would like them to do to you” (Luke 6: 31). When we share good will, goodness and kindness, we tap into what is best in us. Its extraordinary: the more love we give away, the more we will have. Friendship builds up trust, respect and mutuality, breaking down barriers of creed, class and colour.
Sadly, despite all our knowledge and our instant media connections, there is tremendous loneliness and marginalisation in our world today.
So what can you and I do? Maybe visit the elderly? Chat respectfully with a homeless person? Listen to a child? Visit a neighbour? Welcome a refugee?
We can pray: Father, your Son was born a member of a Jewish family, was recognised by wise men from the East, and rejoiced in the faith of a Roman soldier and a Syrian woman. He praised Samaritans for their attitude and good works, welcomed the Greeks who searched for him. And was helped to carry his cross by an African.
(Prayer taken from Walk in My Presence, Nicholas Hutchinson, p 93)