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As human beings we grow through relationships that draw us out of ourselves, gives us life, teach us how to love, and lead to deepening communion. To be human is to be possessed by the aching need to give our self to others and to receive the gift of another’s self in return. The heart of friendship is the need to communicate ourselves, to share our soul and spirit with others in the hope that we might live in communion with them. This reciprocal communication of selves is the most humanizing and live-giving activity, and it is the life-blood of friendship.

The bonds of friendship enable each individual to find the strengths to be human and to remain human irrespective of his/her circumstances, as suffering is understood and cared for, rather than battled against and defeated. The parable of the lost sheep emphasizes the importance of reconnecting the individual to the community. Therefore, to befriend someone is to enter into a relationship that reconnects the individual, not only with the church community but also with their essential humanity. In this way, wounded people will not be left behind by the community as it journeys, nor will the community pass by those whom society rejects and marginalizes. The community should therefore by nature be with and for others, just as God is with and for others. Facilitators seek to embrace all wounded people; they’re striving to absorb that suffering, by offering them acceptance, understanding, hope and meaning.

It is important to stress that every human being is called upon to be a facilitator of healing. A general atmosphere of careful attention by all the members of the community can sometimes heal wounds before special care is demanded. Friendship is the first level of pastoral care, which is the indispensable necessity for all other, deeper levels of pastoral care. The model of friendship presented in the life and work of Christ offers real possibilities for therapeutic change. Committed friendship that reaches beyond culturally constructed barriers and false understandings, and seeks to resurrect the person, is a powerful form of relationship, as it offers hope and new possibilities to people. We are all facilitators of healing who can reach out to offer health and we all are patients in need of help.

Article by Dr Ryna Grobbelaar


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