Chapter 8 – Familiar Friendship with Jesus

VIII

Familiar Friendship with Jesus

 

Our Lord most ardently desires our friendship; He will be our Friend, also, powerful and true; and He tells us what we must do to have Him always for our Friend.  He says: “You are My friends if you do the things that I command you.  I will not now call you servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth.  But I have called you friends, because all things whatsoever I have heard from My Father, I have made known to you.”

Do you see?  Jesus has done everything to gain our friendship.  Sin had made us enemies of His heavenly Father.  To free us from sin, and thereby to reconcile us with His Father the Son of God became man.  The Child in the crib suffers and cries for the sins of mankind; the poor shepherds come, and the three holy kings, to offer Him their love and friendship.  As a grown-up man, Jesus is reviled by the Pharisees, persecuted most bitterly by His enemies, in spite of all He does to draw them to Himself; the publicans, however—the “sinners,” as the Pharisees called them—become the friends of Jesus.  He eats with them, He converses with them, He stays with them in their houses.  Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman at the well, are touched by His love and mercy for them; they repent of their sins; and forthwith He counts them among His friends.  He calls Matthew away from the toll-house and makes him one of
His apostles; He tells Zacheus to get down from the sycamore tree, because He wanted to abide that day in his house; and of the repentant publican in temple He says: “This man went down to his house justified.”  Such, my dear children, were the friends of Jesus.

And when our blessed Redeemer was hanging on the Cross, suffering and dying, how was it?  Even then His enemies hated Him; they scoffed at Him and did everything they could think of the Sacred Heart of Jesus won a friend—the robber on his right side.  Jesus said to him: “Amen, I say to thee, this day thou wilt be with Me in paradise.”

And what now about the friendship of Jesus? Listen; Thomas a Kempis gives us the answer:  “Whosoever findeth Jesus,” says he, findeth a Treasure, yea, a Good above every good.  And he that loseth Jesus loseth much, yea, more than the whole world.

A young man went over from America, across the ocean, to visit his parents, still living, and his brothers and sisters.  He had not seen them for many years.  What joy there was in that house!  The old father and mother embrace their son and wept for very joy; the brothers and sisters, each in turn, embraced him—their dearest brother, for whom they had longed for so many years.

Two or three years after there came a parting.  This same young man was drafted, and he had to go with his regiment.  What sorrow and misery there was then in that house!  The father was almost despairing, the mother’s heart was torn.  The brothers and sisters nearly went wild with grief.  They all sobbed and cried aloud; they embrace him again and again; they clung to him as if they would force him to stay.  But he had to go.  Would he ever return again?  Would they ever see him again, alive and well?

Such is life.  A long-absent friend or relative returns, and people rejoice; he departs, and they are filled with grief.  Let me ask: Is there a friend as good as Jesus?  Is there a brother as loving as Jesus?  When a soul finds Jesus, why do not men rejoice?  When a soul loses Jesus by mortal sin, why do they not grieve and lament?

Let us, therefore, dear readers, always be friends of Jesus.  It is not hard for us to gain His friendship.  Was it hard for Mary Magdalene and the Samaritan woman to become friends of Jesus?  They repented of their sins.  So we, too, must repent if we have had the misfortune to commit a mortal sin.
Child Jesus holding the worldOn the Cross our Saviour could pray: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  If we refuse the friendship of Jesus, He could not pray that way for us; for, surely, we know better who Jesus is.

If you are careful always to have Jesus for your friend, then it makes no difference whether or not you have other friends in this world.  But, whatever other friends you may have, or whatever else you love, love no one and nothing more than Jesus.  As The Following of Christ says: “Let all be loved for Jesus’ sake, but Jesus for His own sake.”  If you have enemies, love them after the example that your
Saviour Himself gave you.  If you are thought well of and praised, think by yourself: whatever good there is in me, whatever good I am doing, all comes from Jesus!

Here is a sentence from The Following of Christ: “Without a friend thou canst not live happily; and if Jesus is not a friend to thee above all, thou wilt indeed be sad and desolate.”

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