The Good Shepherd, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the Gate to Heaven, the Bread of Life, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, the alpha and omega (beginning and end), the Light of the world, the Prince of Peace, Saviour Redeemer, Son of God and Son of Mary, the Reason for our life and purpose of our existence---- all of these are titles for one Person and that Person is JESUS CHRIST!
Still another title should be added to the endless titles of honor given to the greatest man walked on the face of the earth and that title is FRIEND. Jesus is not an impersonal God--- as the Deists believe-- but rather a personal God that is very involved in our lives. So much so that He became one of us in the Incarnation. A short but excellent catechetical definition of Jesus is, "The Son of God made man." He became one of us, like us in every way, eating, drinking, sleeping, weeping, suffering, rejoicing, except in one way: He never sinned!
At the Last Supper Jesus said He loved His own and he loved them to the very end. In this sublime moment, shortly before He would be tortured, crucified and be drained of every drop of His Precious Blood for our salvation, He addressed the Apostles in a most endearing, loving and unforgettable manner, by saying, "I do not call you servants, but I call you FRIENDS because the servant does not know what the master is about..." Being called FRIEND of Jesus was addressed to the Apostles, but also to you and to me. Jesus longs, yearns and desires with a burning Heart to enter into deep FRIENDSHIP with you right now. Let's see how!
1. KNOW HIM! Get into the habit of reading, meditating, pondering and praying over the Word of God every day. Remember the words of St. Jerome, "Ignorance of Sacred Scripture is ignorance of Christ." Find a time, a place, good will, and beg the assistance of the Holy Spirit; it is truly the Holy Spirit who reveals to us who Jesus really is. (Read the Acts of the Apostles)
2. TALK TO HIM. Jesus longs for you to simply open up your heart and talk to Him. St Ignatius of Loyola calls this a "Colloquy"--- meaning entering into a heart to heart conversation with the Lord. Eloquence, perfect English, poetic expressions, all of these are not necessary to talk to the Lord. Actually. St Teresa of Avila specifies this note on prayer: the deeper the prayer the more simple and the more affective--- meaning the more from the heart!
3. WORRIES! We all have worries, preoccupations, stress, tensions, fears, doubts, and many insecurities. Why not simply open your heart and express to the Lord in the utmost sincerity what is bothering you right now. Do not be afraid! (Motto of Pope John Paul II). The Lord is the best of listeners and the greatest of lovers. He invites you to come and to cast all of your cares on Hum. "Come to me all of you who are weary (with worries and problems) and find life burdensome. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart. For you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Mt 11:28-30)
4. JOYS. Equally important, run to the Lord rejoicing and pour out from a joyful and exuberant heart your joys, successes, victories and sunny days! He wants to share in them and to augment them all the more. "Rejoice in the Lord; I say it again: rejoice in the Lord!" (Phil.4:4)
5. PLANS. We all have plans, goals, dreams. aspirations, projects that are present in our minds and in our hearts. Why not bring all of these to the Lord. He is very interested in your plans. Jesus is Architect, Constructor, Artist, Creator, and "Master-planner". In all of these He is the most organized, ordered, and effective. Ask Him to bless your projects, help you to carry them to a successful conclusion and bring forth unspeakable success. The Psalmist summarizes the concept perfectly: "Lord, give success to the work of our hands; give success to the work of our hands.... ALSO.. "If the Lord does not build the house in vain do the workers labor..." All too often our works results in nothing; we go nowhere fast (like walking on a treadmill or like a hamster doing the Ferris wheel) for the simple reason that we do not invite the Lord into our projects. Invite Him and success is yours!
6. TEMPTATIONS. Part and parcel of the human predicament is the reality of temptation. The Bible clearly states this truth that our life on earth is a battle and that if we want to follow the Lord we must --- as good and well-trained soldiers-- prepare for the battle field! Jesus, as pioneer and model for us, went before us and taught us how to conquer the temptations that assail us on a daily basis, by He Himself being tempted in the desert. (Read Mt 4). Prayer, fasting, the power of the Word of God which is like a two-edged sword, separating bone from marrow--- these were the weapons that the Captain of our faith triumphed over the devil. In temptations, call on the Lord! "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil...(The Our Father).
7. SIN. Even if we sin, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ still loves us and all the more. When Jesus called Matthew and was invited to the banquet that Matthew prepared for Him, the Pharisees criticized Jesus because He ate with publicans and sinners. Jesus forcefully defended the poor and the sinners with these clear and penetrating words: "It is not the healthy that need the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners." Your sin should not push you away from Jesus, but be a launching pad into His loving arms. (Remember the Parable of the Prodigal Son/ "Merciful Father"). "Where sin abounds, the mercy of God abounds all the more." Never forget! The greatest attribute of the Heart of Jesus is His Infinite Mercy. JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!!!!
8. SICKNESS! Remember the Gospels and the "Favorites" of Jesus! Who were they! Not the wealthy, rich, comfortable, accommodated, the millionaires! On the contrary! The blind, the deaf, the mute, the lepers, the paralytics, the outcasts, the marginalized, the dregs of society--- all of these were the "Favorites" of the Lord. Jesus willingly and joyfully healed the paralytic, lowered through the roof. You and me are the paralytic! We are paralyzed mentally, at times physically, often emotionally and always morally--- because we are sinners! However, that is precisely "Why" Jesus came into the world as Divine Physician to heal us of our infirmities, but especially of our moral and spiritual infirmities. Looking for a Doctor/Physician? Why not try Jesus, whose name means, "God saves!"
9. SHARE YOUR FRIEND WITH OTHERS! Andrew could not contain his overflowing joy upon meeting the "Treasure of His life"--- the Person and Friendship of Jesus the Lord. The love of God compels us, as Paul affirms, and so Andrew rushed to Peter, his brother, to inform him that he had found the Lord. Jesus saw Peter and called him rock! This would be the rock on which He would build His church--- the Catholic Church with the Papacy! But it started with Andrew, filled with enthusiasm, in sharing his "Treasure"--- Jesus the Lord with Peter! Think! What person in your life, right now can you bring to Jesus! Be courageous enough to accept the challenge! James consoles us with the fact that if we bring a wandering soul back to the Lord many of our sins will be expiated and we will save our own souls. (James 5)
10. MARY AND JESUS. Without a doubt, the quickest, most secure, the most efficacious path to finding, cultivating and growing in "Friendship" with Jesus Christ is through the person that knew Him best, loved Him most ardently, bore Him in her womb for nine months, lived with Him for 30 years, followed Him as His first and best disciple, stood under the cross when He was dying and rejoiced in contemplating Him in His risen glory! Of course, this is the BLESSED VIRGIN MARY. Go to Mary; go to her Immaculate Heart and she will secure a safe haven and refuge in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that she herself formed within her most pure womb. Friendship with Jesus, is the greatest gift in this world and in the next. May Our Lady attain this priceless jem for you and me for now and for all eternity! Amen!