Friendship with Christ - The Key to Holiness

Often when we think about religion, I am thinking particularly of Christianity, we think of systems of rules, morality, obligations, etc. I wonder if we ever ask ourselves Who, in the case of the Catholic Church, the moral law of the Church, the obligations, etc. point toward.

Today I was reading from one of Pope Benedict's General Audience's where he speaks of a personal relationship with Jesus. The question I just posed came to the front of my mind and the word's of Pope Benedict reminded me again that everything comes back to our Lord, the Person of Jesus. "Before being sent out to preach [the 12 Apostles], they had to "be" with Jesus (cf. Mk 3: 14), establishing a personal relationship with him." (March 22, 2006 - General Audience) After reading this, I reflected on my own relationship with Christ, how much time do I spend with Him in prayer, meditating on the Scriptures, serving the poor and the needy, frequenting the Sacraments and so on. Then I thought to myself how quick I am to "preach" to other people without first examining my relationship with Lord.

This theme of friendship and a personal relationship with Christ has been a constant one throughout his pontificate. In fact, Pope Benedict says the secret to holiness, is friendship with Christ. Or in his first encyclical, God is Love, he writes, "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Saint John's Gospel describes that event in these words: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should ... have eternal life” (3:16)."

When we encounter Jesus and love Him, keeping God's commandments, given to us in and through the Church, is no longer a burden but rather a joy and a most sure sign of our love for Jesus.

It is my hope that these words of our Holy Father lead you to strive all the more towards Him Who loves us and Him Who is Love.

"Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him." (April 24, 2005, St. Peter's Square - Inaugural Homily of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI)

Pope Benedict's book on the Apostles and first disciples of Christ can be found here.

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    # by Freder1ck - August 30, 2007 at 11:27 AM

    I heartily recommend Benson's book, The Friendship of Christ. I found it extremely helpful in reconciling the personal and the sacramental dimensions.