One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. (John 13:23)
These words describe the profound relationship that existed between Jesus and the Apostle, John. The same reference is made in the Gospel for today’s Feast, (John 20:2). Does this describe my relationship with Jesus? Does this define your own?
If we call our self Christian, especially Catholic, then Jesus must be at the center of our life, and the point of reference for our self-understanding, our vocation, our values and priorities. Jesus must hold preference of place in and above all else. He calls us ‘friends.’ (John 15:15)
To be a friend of Jesus means first of all, He is real! He is not just some notion or point of reference, but a person who is man and God. Jesus as we celebrate in these days of Christmas took on our human condition, and became one of us.
And the Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, (John 1:14)
Friends love to spend time with each other! Long ago I formed a discipline of beginning each day in prayer, most of the time before the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus called me to live my life in close association with him, and eventually, called me to become a priest, and later, a bishop, and today, an archbishop.
Between daily celebration of the Mass, and daily prayer and regular visits to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, I maintain this close association – this friendship with Jesus, and he in turn sustains me!
Sure, in the beginning of this practice of daily prayer, there was struggle; days where I felt like I was there more out of obligation that love. This is why virtues are called a ‘habit’, and why virtues are rooted in love. In time, love became the truest reason for my desire to ‘visit the Lord’ first thing and often throughout my day. This virtue, this ‘habit’, this practice of prayer, this friendship with Jesus is what gives direction, meaning and purpose to the rest of my day.
If your faith life seems empty, or you feel like you are ‘getting nothing’ out of Mass, perhaps you simply need to renew your friendship with Jesus!
On this Feast of ‘The Beloved Disciple, John,’ ask him to intercede for you and your relationship with Jesus. Stop by Church today and pay a visit to your ‘Beloved, Jesus’ who is always present in the Blessed Sacrament. Take time each day to pray, to speak to Jesus about what is going on in your life, as you do to your friends, and then take some silent time to listen to Jesus speak in the depths of your heart.
Every healthy relationship – every meaningful friendship, requires time, dialogue, love.
Through the intercession of St. John, may you renew again today your friendship with Jesus, and may Jesus this Christmas season become the central, life-giving point of reference for your life.