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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Jesus Longs to be Your Friend! Will You Respond?

Jesus washing the feet of His friends. "Love one
another as I have loved you." John 13:34
Do you believe it? Can the Lord of the Universe, the Word through Whom everything was made really want to be your and my friend? That's like me wanting to be bosom buddies with one of the bees in our six colonies. No, it's like me wanting to be an intimate friend of every one of the bees (150,000+) in our six colonies. Only that's a bad analogy because I'm less than a bee to Almighty God. So can you believe it? Can I?

I hope so because it's true. Jesus knows you and me with all our sins and faults and flaws and, yes, He wants to come and dwell in intimate union with each one of us. What a thought! Does it make your heart sing? I thrill just to think of it!

A few days ago I did a post reflecting on Robert Hugh Benson's, The Friendship of Christ. Let's look at a few more of his thoughts that they might enrich our relationship with Jesus. He tells us that, while this friendship in some ways is comparable to that between two human individuals, it is totally different because, "A single individualistic friendship with Him...does not exhaust His capacities." Our energies might be exhausted by intimate friendships with two or three outside our families, but Christ "is not merely A Man; He is The Son...the Eternal Word by whom all things were made and are sustained."

Like a diamond with many facets, Christ wants to know us and approaches us "along countless avenues":
It is not enough to know Him interiorly only; He must be known (if His relation with us is to be that which He desires) in all those activities and manifestations in which He displays Himself. One who knows Him therefore solely as an Interior Companion and Guide, however dear and adorable, but does not know Him in the Blessed Sacrament -- one whose heart burns as he walks with Jesus in the way, but whose eyes are held that he knows Him not in the breaking of Bread, knows but one perfection out of ten thousand. And again, he who calls Him Friend in Communion, but whose devotion is so narrow and restricted that he does not recognize Him in that Mystical Body in which He dwells and speaks on earth -- in fact, who individualist, and does not therefore understand that corporate Religion which is the very essence of Catholicism...or again, who recognizes Him under sensational circumstances, but not under dreary ones...can never rise to that height of intimacy and knowledge of that Ideal Friend which He Himself desires, and has declared to be within our power to attain....Even the most sacred experiences of life are barren unless His Friendship sanctifies them....The purest affection -- that affection that unites my dearest friend to myself -- is a counterfeit and an usurper unless I love my friend in Christ -- unless He, the Ideal and Absolute Friend, is the personal bond that unites us.
Msgr. Benson affirms that such a relationship between us and Christ is "inconceivable at first sight" since He is God. But, by taking on human flesh and "becoming like us in all things but sin," friendship with God became possible. And by giving us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist Jesus allows us to "embrace His Soul with ours."

This intimate friendship with Christ may begin with something small, Benson tells us, perhaps in a sudden awareness as we repeat some devotion or gesture we've done many times: may be as we kneel before the Crib at Christmas, or follow our Lord along the Way of the Cross. We have done these things or performed those ceremonies dutifully and lovingly again and again; yet on this sudden day a new experience comes to us. We understand, for example, for the first time that the Holy Child is stretching His arms from the straw, not merely to embrace the world -- that would be little enough! -- but to embrace our own soul in particular. We understand as we watch Jesus, bloodstained and weary, rising from His third fall, that He is asking our own very self in particular to help Him with His burden. The glance of the Divine Eyes meets our own; there passes from Him to us an emotion or a message that we had never before associated with our own relations with Him. The tiny event has happened! He has knocked at our door, and we have opened; He has called and we have answered. Henceforth, we thing, His ours and we are His. Here, at last, we tell ourselves, is the Friend for whom we have been looking so long: her is the Soul that perfectly understands our own; the one Personality which we can safely allow to dominate our own. Jesus Christ has leapt forward two thousand years, and is standing by our side; He has come down from the painting on the wall; He has risen from the straw in the manger -- My Beloved is mine and I am His.
This, however, is just the beginning of the intimate friendship with Christ. I'll finish Msgr. Benson's thoughts in one last post. To be continued....

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