During their long journey through the desert, the chosen people would set up the tent of meeting outside of their camp. It was a holy site, away from the business of the world. To visit the Lord one had to leave the camp. It was there that Moses went to plead for his people before the Lord: Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
There are a number of occasions when Holy Scripture reveals God to be a friend of men. Through the Prophet Isaiah God speaks of Abraham, my friend. The chosen people rely on this friendship to obtain pardon and divine protection. Even more, all of Revelation tends towards the formation of a people who are friends with God, bound to him by an intimate Covenant which is continually renewed. Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God out of the abundance of his love speaks to men as friends and lives among them, so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with himself. This divine plan came to fruition in the fullness of time when the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, became man. Friendship presupposes a certain equality and personal contact, but the distance between God and man is infinite. God took on a human nature so that man could take a part in his divinity by means of sanctifying grace.
Friendship requires mutual love. God reached out to us, and, thus, we were able to correspond. We love him because he first loved us. Man corresponds by accepting God’s love, opening his soul to him, allowing himself to be loved and expressing his own love in deeds.
The essence of the friendship between God and men is to be found in the nature of charity, which is a supernatural gift. God’s love has been poured into our hearts. This gift allows us to love God with the same love by which he loves us. Jesus says to us, As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. Jesus prays to his Father: That the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. The Christian’s joy is rooted in the sure knowledge that God loves him. For God said: You are my friends ... What a great joy it is to be able to call ourselves ‘friends of God’!
In the course of his earthly life Our Lord was always open to friendship with those who approached him. On some occasions it was He who took the initiative to bring people to himself, as in the cases of Zacchaeus and that of the Samaritan woman. He was a friend to his disciples, and they were quite aware of his concern. When they didn’t understand something, they would draw close to him with confidence, as is shown in today’s Gospel. They ask the Lord: Explain to us the parable ... So the Lord takes them apart and reveals to them the meaning of his teachings. The disciples joined in Christ’s happiness and in Christ’s worries. Christ encouraged them whenever necessary.
In a like manner the Lord now offers his friendship to us from the Tabernacle. There He will console us, encourage us, pardon us. From the Tabernacle, as in the tent of meeting, the Lord speaks with everyone face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Here there is the great difference that our temples house the God made Man, Jesus, the same one who was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary; he who was to die for us on a cross.