The corruption of language reveals the corruption of society. When people toss around words such as “friend”, “community” and “sharing” without knowing what they mean and when people misuse them for personal gain, they get what they deserve: social networks where you can acquire thousands of “friends” and feel lonelier than ever, and the gig economy, also known as the “sharing” economy by Silicon Valley billionaires who share none of their billions with you. They want you to be part of a “community” so they can fleece you and steal your data.
If you do not know what a true friend is, you will be defrauded, not just in your finances but in your personal life. You will waste time on people who will betray you. If you believe that the sharing economy is about community and friendship, you are in big trouble. While you are free to remain ignorant and deluded, it does have terrible consequences.
Thus, I present to you the epistle for today’s Mass (9 May 2020) on this feast of St. Gregory Nazianzen (in the traditional Catholic calendar), Sirach (Ecclesiasticus 6:6-14) on true and false friends. It’s nothing new. Your grandmother probably told you about it as grandmothers are wont to do. In summary, it goes like this: a true friend does not take advantage of you and he does not abandon you.
 Be in peace with many, but let one of a thousand be thy counsellor.  If thou wouldst get a friend, try him before thou takest him, and do not credit him easily.  For there is a friend for his own occasion, and he will not abide in the day of thy trouble.  And there is a friend that turneth to enmity; and there is a friend that will disclose hatred and strife and reproaches.  And there is a friend a companion at the table, and he will not abide in the day of distress.  A friend if he continue steadfast, shall be to thee as thyself, and shall act with confidence among them of thy household.  If he humble himself before thee, and hide himself from thy face, thou shalt have unanimous friendship for good.  Separate thyself from thy enemies, and take heed of thy friends.  A faithful friend is a strong defence: and he that hath found him, hath found a treasure.Sirach 6:6-14 (Douay-Rheims Bible)
How many of your so-called friends would you consider a good counsellor, someone whose advice has proven trustworthy, who has kept you from going down the wrong path? How many of your friends came to your aid when everyone abandoned you?
How do you find a true friend? Here’s Sirach again:
 A faithful friend is the medicine of life and immortality: and they that fear the Lord, shall find him.  He that feareth God, shall likewise have good friendship: because according to him shall his friend be.Sirach 6:16-17 (Douay-Rheims Bible)
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Faith, good works, observance of the Commandments and fervent prayer are the marks of a person who fears the Lord. To him shall wisdom be given, the wisdom to discern a friend from a fraud. Such a person will repel bad company and attract those who are seeking an upright, trustworthy companion. Pray to Our Lord that He may give you true friends.