Supporting another, being a friend, is a calling of many people, if not most. You and I are called to be kind and friends to others. Jesus, in the Gospels, puts a high value of friendship.
We are invited to support and encourage others, as friends. This is a gentle but very significant calling that it is good to consider and put into practice. Sometimes it is a relatively easy task, sometimes when the friend is in difficulty, or perhaps in serious trouble, it can be a very difficult undertaking.
St John Chrysostom suffered many hardships. Undoubtedly his forthright manner, and willingness to speak out led him into trouble. Sometimes what he said was a great challenge to those in power, sometimes his words were mistaken, and today seem very much out of place. In his difficulties he was supported by friends, amongst them, of course, Olympias of Constantinople.
Anysius of Thessalonica (feast day December 30th) was appointed Bishop of Thessaloica in 383. St Ambrose praised his zeal and said he had high hopes for Anysius’ work as a bishop. Anysius was a supporter, a friend, of Chrysostom. This is not to say he would have agreed with everything Chrysostom said. However, Anysius risked being sent into exile through supporting Chrysostom. He went to Constantinople to speak out in his favour. In 404, with fifteen other bishops, he appealed to Pope Innocent on Chrysostom’s behalf after Chrysostom had been sent into exile from Constantinople. From exile Chrysostom wrote to his friend thanking him for his efforts.
Supporting a friend can be a courageous act, and an act of humility. Sometimes it is not at all easy. A part of the Christian’s calling is a willingness to serve, to place oneself second.
In our prayers: we give thanks for those who support us, for friends. We pray for those we know in difficult circumstances who need support.