"God is not related to as the answer to a philosophical riddle but instead is related to as a friend. Friendship involves self-disclosure. So when God gives the gift of faith he tells us something personal about himself.... He tells us that he made everything not out of need but out of a desire to share his own life.... Everything depends on whether or not the gift of faith is accepted. 'I believe it' becomes 'I believe you.' "
—Fr. John Dominic Corbett, O.P.
"If only Eve had turned and said, 'Adam, my love, forgive me!' If only she had bowed her head before God and said, 'Yes, my Lord, we were both wrong.' "
I have taken both of these quotes from the readings for yesterday and today in the Magnificat Year of Faith Companion. Both of them draw, for me, analogies between faith in God—which requires and builds a kind of friendship—and human friendship—which requires and builds a kind of faith.
The key word for me in the first quote is need. God doesn't need us; he created us because he wanted to and because he could. And he created us with the will and the freedom to want him in the same way. That's why he built into us and our world the freedom to live as though we don't need him, the freedom to think we are doing it all without him. That is why he invites rather than forces us to have faith—which, when we accept it, opens the door to friendship with him.
Human friendship is, or should be, like this too: an invitation "to share [one's] own life." It is a gift that can be either accepted or rejected, and we are free to think we don't need it, free to live as though we don't need it—whether friendship in general or friendship with a particular person.
Genesis tells us that God created Adam and Eve (and us) for such friendship with him. He must have known—just as he knows now—about the danger our freedom posed to us (not to him but to us). I imagine his intention was always to forgive—even Adam and Eve, as Heather King suggests in the second passage I've quoted—as long as we choose our friendship with him over the need to hide our shame (as though we could, or can). An Old Testament scholar (which I am not) would be able to show how this intention is clear throughout the scriptures, beginning in Genesis; and in Luke 24:27 we are told that "beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Jesus interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures."
Friendship between people has the same possibilities—we can call each other "my love," admit our errors, and preserve the relationship—and the same risks—as Heather King writes, "What if we tell the truth and they don't love us anymore! What if we act with integrity and they kick us out?" We can choose to hide from one another, and thereby give up the friendship.
Faith—the friendship that God offers us—"is like a seed," writes Fr. Corbett. So, I choose to believe, is real human friendship. "It is alive and growing and pregnant with the promise of harvest, even when buried in mid-winter soil." It is "like a lamp shining in the middle of darkness. With its aid, we can truly see, even though it is midnight. Right now we see as in a glass darkly. But dawn is coming and our faith is the very beginning of eternal life." So are our friendships with one another—if we let them be.