Friday, April 14, 2006

Read the Scriptures. Have a personal relationship with Christ!

This is what being a "friend of Christ" entails, according to the Pope, in his homily at the Chrism Mass at St. Peter's yesterday.
Friendship means to share in thinking and willing. We must exercise ourselves in this communion of thought with Jesus, St. Paul tells us in the Letter to the Philippians (cf. 2:2-5). And this communion of thought is not just something intellectual, but is a sharing of sentiments and will and therefore also of action.

This means that we must know Jesus in an ever more personal way, listening to him, living together with him, spending time with him. To listen to him -- in "lectio divina," that is, in reading Holy Scripture not in an academic but in a spiritual way; thus we learn to encounter Jesus who is present and speaks to us. We should reason and reflect on his words and on his action before him and with him.

The reading of sacred Scripture is prayer, it must be prayer -- it must emerge from prayer and lead to prayer. The evangelists tell us that the Lord repeatedly -- for entire nights -- withdrew to the mountain to pray alone. We also have need of this "mountain": It is the interior height we must scale, the mountain of prayer. Only in this way is friendship developed. Only in this way can we carry out our priestly service, only in this way can we take Christ and his Gospel to men. Simple activism may even be heroic. But external action, in the end, remains without fruit and loses effectiveness, if it is not born from a profound intimate communion with Christ.
[Translation from Zenit]

While directly addressing priests, I seriously doubt the Holy Father would hold that this kind of "friendship with Christ" is only for the ordained!

Perhaps most powerfully for me, he closed with the words of Fr. Andrea Santoro, the Italian priest murdered in Turkey during the cartoon hysteria.
I would like to end this homily with a word of Andres Santoro, the priest of the Diocese of Rome who was killed in Trebisonda while he was praying; Cardinal Cé communicated it to us during the Spiritual Exercises. The word says: "I am here to dwell in the midst of these people and allow Jesus to do so presenting my flesh. ... One becomes capable of salvation only by offering one's own flesh. The evil of the world is borne and pain is shared, absorbing it in the end in one's own flesh as Jesus did." Jesus assumed our flesh. Let us give him ours, so that in this way he can come into the world and transform it. Amen!


assiniboine said... "a personal relationship" etc your gloss on His Holiness or is the Vatican beginning to be acculturated to American conservative Evangelical Protestant phraseology?!

(Nothing like being asked by Baptist and low church Anglican missionaries in Indonesia, "When were you born again?" Ummmmmmmm....)

Gashwin said...

It was a deliberate gloss, I guess, having freshly come back from the Evangelical Catholic Institute last month. However, the Holy Father did say, more or less the same thing: This means that we must know Jesus in an ever more personal way. That is at the heart of the spiritual life, and, the folks at EC (and many others no doubt) would aver, the key to a flourishing evangelical (in the non-sectarian sense of the word) spirituality and by extension, parish life.