The Most Holy Theotokos according to Saint Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain Contextual or Post Patristic Theology My exodus from Roman Catholicism Love In Truth Christian Martyrdom - The 40 Virgin Martyrs The Apocalypse The Contribution of St. Gregory Palamas to Hesychasm Sunday of Orthodoxy Spiritual Examination The Three Friends The Second Coming
THE THREE FRIENDS
(a parable from a church saint)
A certain man had three friends. Two of these friends he loved very much. He would sacrifice everything for their friendship. He would stay up all night just to please them. He literally worshiped them. For the first friend he worked day and night. He had such great love for him that many a time he did not even take time to eat.
He was also crazy about his second friend. When he opened his wallet one could see the photographs of this friend. When he met this friend he was jumping for joy. He loved to spend time with him.
Along with these two friends he also had a third one. This friend he did not love very much. Now and then he would remember to visit him. Very seldom would he do something nice for him. His company was-almost always-the first two friends.
One day he received some bad news. He panicked. This matter cost him sleep. He would lie awake night after night from the agony. What caused all this? One night while sleeping he was awakened by a loud knock on his door. He got up and found a constable at the door serving him a summons. What is this? The man asked in disbelief.
This is a piece of paper," said the nighttime visitor, inviting you to attend a court hearing. You are a suspect."
"Me a suspect? What did I do?" He asked, full of fear.
I do not know. All I know is that you are being accused of a great crime. I have no more information. Just sign the summons, I can't wait any longer. I must visit quite a few others like you to bring them to court. So long and take care.: So the constable left the summons and walked back into the night.
The suspected man was left behind, petrified. He broke out into a cold sweat. What would happen to him? A suspect! He must find some character witnesses immediately to help him prove his innocence and avoid being sentenced. But how could he find these people?
"I have two good friend" he thought. "I love them so much. If they don't help me now that I'm in trouble, when would they help me, thus proving their friendship? I must go find them at one."
So, first thing in the morning he decided to visit his two great friends. After a little while he was knocking at the door of his first friend. He will so happy to see me he thought, while knocking.
"My friend" he says "you know how much I cared for you all these years. You know how Much I sacrificed for you. You know how many nights I labored for you. So now I beg of you, this is the first time that I am asking you for a favor. In the name of our friendship, please come to the courtroom to tell the judge that I'm not guilty. Tell him I'm innocent. Please help me. Don't you feel sorry for me? While saying these things, he was crying bitterly. His tears got worse when he saw that his friend was totally indifferent.
"Listen to me" the friend said. "I realize that you loved me and did everything for me, but at this time I can't come to court. I must go away on business. But, since I see that your clothes are in bad shape and full of holes, take this suit of clothes so you will at least be well dressed when you appear before the judge. "
A suit of clothes my friend?" said the suspected man. "I don't need clothes. I want you. I want you to come personally to be my witness. Can't you come? Don't you remember all the time we had together, our great friendship…"
His friend was as cold as ice. He proceeded to show him that he was no longer welcomed at his house and that the conversation was officially over. So the poor man leaves, only to run and find the second friend. He just knew that his friend would help him, and stand by him in this difficult time. He comes to the house of his second friend and knocks on the door.
"Who is it?" his friend asked in a heavy voice.
"It is your good friend. Open quickly. I have to tell you something very serious."
His friend opens the door. He is surprised at the condition of his visitor, and asks him, What happened to you? Why are you troubled? Why are you pale and crying?
"Oh my friend, I'm in deep trouble. They are accusing me. Tomorrow I must be in court. I'm accused of a crime and if found guilty they will surely sentence me to death."
"What did you say? You are kidding! You are such a good person and they are accusing you."
"No, it is not truth, I'm in danger. So I came to ask you to come along with me. You know how much love I've had for you over the years, so please come with me to testify on my behalf and prove my innocence. My other friend has deserted me. Don't send me away empty handed. Please come…"
"When do you want me to come?"
"Oh, that is too bad, tomorrow I can't, I"m very busy. The only thing that I can do is walk along with you until we get to the door of the courthouse. After that I have to leave. I can't stay. I/m so sorry to see you in this shape, and I will be sad if you are found guilty. But I don't know what to tell you, I just can't come."
"I'm not looking for company to walk me to the courthouse, "said the poor man. "I'm looking for witnesses to support my case."
"I understand," said his second friend, "but I simply can't."
"So he decides to go. He was rather nervous and kept talking to himself. "I wonder how he will receive me? "
When he reached the home of his third friend, he knocked on the door half-heartedly.
"Who is it?" a rather pleasant voice inquired from inside.
"It is I," answered the unexpected visitor in a trembling voice. "Open the door for me please. I'm in big trouble.."
With much joy and politeness his friend answered the door. "Welcome! Please come in. How are you? How is everything? You seem upset. What's happening to you? Maybe I can help."
"My friend," said the visitor with much embarrassment,
"I'm ashamed to look at you. I know that I didn't love you as much as my other two friends." He went on to explain his plight." Can you help me! I know that I am not worthy of your love and I would understand if you would say no. But…"
"Nonsense!" his friend interrupted him. "Don't be shy. Don't be afraid. We will face this thing together. I will not leave you, and I'm certain that I can convince them of your innocence. So don't worry. Let's go. You will see what I will say in court on your behalf…"
We can all imagine the feelings of the man in the parable. Where he least expected it he found understanding and love. His third friend come to his aid and was instrumental in proving his innocence.
Even though this is not one of Jesus' parables, nevertheless it is full of wisdom characteristic of the fullness of spirit possessed by our church saints. So let us see what is the meaning behind the different people and details of this parable.
The man of our story is everyman. You and I , all of us. We all have three friends. The one friend that people love and get tired for is money. They work hard to have a lot of money. Many times they don't go to church on Sundays to make more money. They work overtime, even at night. They steal, lie, and cheat to make money fast.
The second friend that people love a lot are relatives. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sister, uncles, and acquaintances.
The third friend we will reveal a little later.
Everyman will one day hear a knock at the door of his soul. An unearthly visitor will come knocking and calling to bring a notice. This visitor is death. None of us will be able to escape death. He will come calling one day, unexpectedly. Maybe when we are young, maybe when we get older. One thing is for certain. Sooner or later death will be calling us to appear in God's court as defendants. Who will the first friend do? He was giving the man a suit of clothing. This friend, as we said earlier is wealth. No matter what you have, you only take you a suit of clothes to be buried in.
The second friend? He walked the defendant to the court and then left. This friend is our relative. No matter how much our relatives love us and vice versa, they will only follow us to the cemetery. They will leave there and they will return to their everyday lives and soon forget us.
Let's look at the third friend. Who is he? The good deeds. The good deeds that we did while alive. They will travel with us to the other life and the will come to our rescue at the Judgment seat of God. Let's not let a day go by without giving the opportunity to the angel to record some good deed in our book of Life.
Dedicated to my St. Nicholas students whom I love in the truth.