It is interesting and significant that the disciples receive the privilege of being called Jesus’ friends shortly before his arrest and execution—when all but one would abandon him to his fate. And whereas it might suggest that Jesus had prematurely designated these still weak and untrustworthy men his intimate friends, it might also say something about the target that close friends of Jesus become to the forces of evil bent on their destruction. Thus we too shouldn’t be surprised when growing closer to Christ results in ever greater temptations and assaults on our commitment to him. As Saint Bernard reminded us yesterday at Vigils, the joy that Christ gives his true friends doesn’t shield us from suffering and temptation, but abides even in the midst of persecution and trial. And thus it would seem that this side of the grave, Christ’s precious gift of joy comes only at the price of simultaneous struggle and temptation. But, because it is a supreme joy and a joy that no one can take away unless we freely relinquish it, it is surely worth infinitely more than the meager price of the struggle.