The Icon of Friendship
|Icon of Friendship|
Although simple in its presentation, it is nevertheless a sophisticated image. Jesus is shown putting His arm around the shoulder of a friend; this man is called Menas, but he represents each one of us. Jesus does not face Menas, rather He stands alongside him; He accompanies him, sharing in the burdens of life. In His left arm Jesus holds the Scriptures, God’s word. The word tells the story of the love between God and humanity; the tireless love of God for His people in spite of the limitations and unfaithfulness of their love. The face of Jesus commands attention, not in a triumphal way, but with a calm and silent authority. His eyes, large and open, accentuated by strong eyebrows, and deep round shadows are not severe or judgmental but gentle. His gaze is still, focused and intense. He looks beyond the world to His Father. Just as, with a gentle hand on the shoulder, Jesus guides Menas to contemplate in wonder the love of the Father for all, so does He guide us. Menas holds in his hand a small unopened scroll; perhaps this symbolizes God’s loving but not fully revealed plan for Menas’ life. The gentle expression of friendship depicted in the icon allows for a glimpse into the all embracing love of Jesus revealed on the Cross and a great reminder to us that Christ is always with us on our journey. He will help us to “to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God (thanks to Antrim Parish for this description).
We live in an age where we can strike up a new friendship with the click of a mouse, where our “friends,” many of whom we’ve never even met, can number into the hundreds, or even thousands, thanks to social networking sites like Facebook. And yet, despite all the connections and links and “likes” about everything from what we cooked for dinner last night to whom we’re voting for in the next election, most people are hungry for something more, for friendships that dip below the surface to touch the soul.
Sometimes; the value of friendship is something that few people take time to really appreciate. When you need a friend, you realize just what kind of value friendship holds. A recent conversation made me reflect upon this. Perhaps there is no better example of this than the television Sitcom “Cheers.” The theme song says, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came; You want to be where you can see, Our troubles are all the same; You want to be where everybody knows your name!”.