You can think of the reward of friendship in two ways. You can think of it as the benefits that accrue to you from the outside, or those that accrue to you from the inside.

The benefits of friendship from the outside are manifold. Friends provide the pleasures of companionship, which themselves come in many varieties. Whatever enjoyment we get from dining alone is a different and more constricted enjoyment from that of eating the same food in amiable company. A walk in the woods gains depth from the resonant experience of shared peregrination. Conversation with another taps into wellsprings of wit and perspective and information that freshen and stimulate the dry grounds of our private reflection. The list goes on and on.

And the outside benefits can, of course, also be less ethereal and aesthetic. In times of our need, friends provide succor and support: a visit to relieve boredom, a financial assistance, a ride to the hospital. The list here is also endless.

But it’s of the benefits from the inside that we need to speak. The mere reality of being someone with a friend makes you different, deeper than you would otherwise be. This is true, regardless of the nature of the friend, but the nature of the friend does affect the nature of your new depth.

We find ourselves drawn to and affectionate towards goodhearted people. Why? Because the part of our own spirit that is grounded in charity, perhaps unknown to our conscious awareness, has found a source of nourishment for its own growth. We find ourselves respectful towards and attentive to some people, but not to others. Why? Because the part of our spirit that is grounded in humility senses balm for its own painful pride, and a source of nourishment for its own growth. We yield to the attention of some while remaining suspicious of the attention of others. Why? Because our purest heart warms to their transparent light.

Jesus often talked about the greatness of the reward from knowing God. He was talking about the reward from the inside.

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