. It’s availability and self-giftedness to others that gives people a sense of their value and the power and desire to give themselves.
18. From the earliest years of Opus Dei, Saint Josemaria taught us the specific way by which God invites us to announce the Gospel in the middle of the world. “You are to bring souls closer to God by your timely words that open up apostolic horizons; by the wise advice that helps someone take a Christian approach in facing a problem; through your friendly conversation, which teaches others how to practice charity: that is, through an apostolate that I have sometimes called the apostolate of friendship and confidence.”
True friendship—like charity, which raises the human dimension of friendship to the supernatural plane—is a value in itself. It is not a means or an instrument for gaining any social advantage, even though it may bring such advantages (as it may also bring disadvantages). Our Father, while encouraging us to cultivate friendship with many people, warned us at the same time:“You will act like that, my daughters and sons, not indeed to use friendship as a tactic for social penetration (that would make friendship lose its intrinsic value), but as a requirement, the first and most immediate requirement, of human fraternity, which we Christians have the duty to foster among men, no matter how different they are from one another.”
Friendship has an intrinsic value because it denotes a sincere concern for the other person. Thus “friendship is itself apostolate; friendship is itself a dialogue in which we give and receive light. In friendship plans are forged as we mutually open up new horizons. In friendship we rejoice in what is good and support one another in what is difficult; we have a good time with one another, since God wants us to be happy.”
When a friendship is like that, loyal and sincere, there is no way it can be instrumentalized. Each friend simply wants to pass on to the other the good they experience in their own life. Normally we will do this without even realizing it, through our example, our joy and a desire to serve that is expressed in a thousand little ways. Nevertheless, “the importance of witness does not mean that our words are not needed. Why should we not speak of Jesus, why should we not tell others that He gives us strength in life, that we enjoy talking with Him, that we benefit from meditating on his words?” And then, naturally, friendship ends up in personal confidences, full of sensitive respect for freedom, as a necessary result of the genuine character of that friendship.