I often go out to dinner with a group of close friends. We all like to talk. So, our dinner conversations would often cover a very wide range of topics. This Fat Tuesday was no exception.
Julie: Do you have to appreciate someone to be his friend?
Andy: How can you call someone a "friend" if you don't appreciate him for who he is?
Julie: Well, he just has to appreciate me as I am!
Annie: Isn't that one-way friendship? He considers you a friend, but you don't really consider him a friend.
Julie: Yes, I do. I do consider him my friend. I just can't appreciate his personality.
Andy: But that doesn't make sense! How can you be friends with someone you don't like? Right, Father?
Me: Well, according to the Church's teachings...
Julie: Wait, the Church teaches about friendship, too? Is there anything that the Church doesn't meddle with?
Me: I wouldn't call it "meddling". It's more like "giving guidance". The Church is like a concerned mother trying to teach her children how to be better persons.
Andy: Julie, YOU stop meddling with the Church's teachings! Go ahead, Father, what does the Church say?
Me: Well, the Church's teaching on friendship is actually based on the philosophy of Aristotle. He said that there are three kinds of friendship: friendship based on utility, friendship based on pleasure, and friendship based on goodness.
Annie: And since the Church doesn't like anything useful or pleasurable, only friendship based on goodness is acceptable, right?
Me: Whoa! That's a horrible characterizing of the Church! But you're right about friendship. "Only the friendship of those who are good, and similar in their goodness, is perfect," according to Aristotle.
Andy: But isn't it useful and pleasurable to be with a good friend?
Me: Yes. In fact, Aristotle went on to say that true friendship has three qualities: mutually enjoyable, morally helpful and genuinely committed to the good.
Julie: So, where does "appreciation" fit into this whole "philosophy of friendship"?
Me: Well, if you can't stand someone, I doubt that the time you spend with him would be mutually enjoyable or morally useful.
Julie: I do enjoy talking to him and spending time with him. I just really can't stand certain things about his personality.
Andy: Oh, that's normal. No one is perfect.
Me: That's where the fourth quality of true friendship comes in: sacrifice. "Greater love than this no one has, to lay down one's life for one's friends," said Jesus (John 15:13).
Annie: Do you have to involve Jesus in every one of our discussions?
Me: Well, as Jesus would say, "I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard" from my Teacher (John 15:15). Ha ha...
As my grandma used to say, there is nothing that a good laugh and a good meal can't cure. We ate and talked and laughed all night. I surely hope the best for Julie and her "friend", regardless of whether she can "appreciate" him or not.