“ I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.” Philippians 4.2-3
A Word of Hope
How can you be sure when someone is your best friend? It’s that person who always supports you and with whom you never disagree, right? Not likely. Best friends have differences of opinions all the time as they should. How else can we sort out what’s important in our lives? My mother used to say that if two people on a committee think exactly alike, one of them is unnecessary. Two of the Apostle Paul’s co-workers, Eudoria and Syntyche- sort of the Lucy and Ethel of Scripture- were best friends with differences.
Paul reminds them about the actions of the Best Friend humanity ever had. The founder of their faith had emptied himself and taken on the form of a servant, even to death on the cross. The example of Jesus’ humility in his trials had served Eudoria and Syntyche’s community well when Paul had been among them and those memories are continuing to nurture them at the time of this letter.
The letter to the Philippians reminds us that friends who have experienced hardships, prejudices, and have even seen their whole world shaken will most likely develop durable bonds of love that grow triumphantly out of these common seeds of suffering. But, it’s always the dramas we remember best, and from which we learn the most. This letter of friendship also reminds us that God is always perfecting those good works which had been started in us and that the dramas will never all disappear. At the time of its writing, Euodia and Syntyche are experiencing some ideological differences, but Paul knows the hearts of these two women and lifts them up in prayer instead of scolding them. He writes:
“And this I pray: that your love may grow even more and more to its fullest development in knowledge and keen insight so that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value… to the honor and the praise of God.”
What better prayer for any friend? May it be our prayer for one another and especially for those we call our best friends today.
May our behavior toward one another bring you honor and praise.
Minister for Children and Families
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare