Friendship

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. - John 12:1-3

When he was in Bethany reclining at table in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard. She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head.
There were some who were indignant. "Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? It could have been sold for more than 300 days' wages and the money given to the poor." They were infuriated with her.
Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them, but you will not always have me. She has done what she could. She has anticipated anointing my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." -
Mark 14:3-9

Thomas of Celano tells a story about Francis' availability for and generosity in friendship. It illustrates the importance and gratuitousness of true friendship. Brother Riccerio imagines himself unworthy of Francis' love but discovers not only that he is already loved deeply by the Poverello, but also that such love is neither reward nor recompense but rather pure gift.

On another occasion, at Clare's insistence and after much consideration, Francis agreed that they should share a meal. This example of friends drinking deeply of the joy of intimacy stretches our thinking about the impact of such love:

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 1993
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