“How does friendship with Jesus brings fuller unity?”
The third major work of the Church is building unity. This is difficult work because — let’s face it — we don’t all play well together. The best way to start bringing unity within the Church is to become a friend of Jesus.
This episode — in which we conclude our discussion of the last sentence of Lumen Gentium 1 — we are going to focus on Psalm 25 to find the answers to the questions you might be thinking: how can I become a friend with Jesus, how will this bring unity within the Church, and how does this help me becoming a brighter light to the nations?
After listening to this podcast, you will be able to:
- Tell about the importance of having a friendship with Jesus.
- Using the verse of Psalm 25, describe some of the ways you can become a friend of Jesus
- List some of the disadvantages a friendship with Jesus might bring.
Lumen Gentium Text
This text from Vatican II document Lumen Gentium is the basis for the content of this episode:
“The present-day conditions of the world add greater urgency to this work of the Church so that all men — joined more closely today by various social, technical and cultural ties — might also attain fuller unity in Christ.” §01 ¶01
|The words of Psalm 25.|
“Filling Our Father’s House” by Shaun McAfee
Our Evangelical Protestant brothers and sisters talk a lot about a personal relationship with Jesus. According to McAfee, most often what a majority of them have a personal knowledge of Jesus but not necessarily a relationship. This is why we focusing on developing a friendship with Jesus because if all of us become unified with Him, we are going to become unified with each other, which will make the Church a brighter light to the nations.
McAfee offers these suggestions on developing that personal relationship (friendship) with Jesus:
- Start with Prayer.
- Willingness to cede control of our lives to God.
- Know Jesus through His Church.
- Look for Jesus in others.
- Get to know the saints.
- Seek spiritual direction.
I highly recommend this book to you. It is a short insight into how a recent convert sees the Church.
Finding Friendship With Jesus in Psalm 25
What follows in a summary of what was said in the podcast. You will notice it builds on and supports McAfee’s six steps.
1) To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
A friendship with Jesus begins by making Him a part of our lives. When we believe with our heart what our mind knows about Jesus, is a huge step in our friendship with Him. This is when we make the decision that Jesus is real, and this affects every choice we make from there on.
2) O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me.
Jesus asks for a child-like faith in trusting Him. We start this by following His teachings. When you notice that the promise of peace and purpose comes from living as He taught to live then you know you can trust in Him in other ways.
3) Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame; let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Those striving for friendship with Jesus are often looked down on as weak-minded. Not everyone is going to be happy with you because you are friends with Jesus. Are you willing to pay the price friendship with Jesus is going to cost you?
4) Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.
Ask Jesus to teach you His ways. He will give you the grace to be drawn more to read the Bible, to pay more attention at Mass, and desire to seek reconciliation with Him through the Sacrament of Confession. It takes time to reprogram yourself, like any new habit. Trust that Jesus will help you develop into a light to the nations.
5) Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation: for you I wait all day long.
The lies of the world are more fun and easy to do than following the ways of Jesus. When starting in a friendship with Jesus, it’s hard to hear the difference in your internal talk. Is it you, it is Jesus, or is it our enemy? With time you will learn to know the difference.
6) Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
Because many of our friendships are conditional, it is easy to think Jesus sees friendship as conditional. We believe that we can be so awful that Jesus will pull back His mercy from us, and that’s a lie. The mercy we receive from Jesus is unmerited; we can’t earn it. We will never be good enough so we need only to be willing to accept it. There is nothing we can do that will make Him love us any less.
7) Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!
Psalm 103 says “as far as the east is from the west, so far God removes our transgressions from us.” He is not that kind of friend that will throw your mistakes back into your face because — as Hebrews 8 says — He “will remember [our] sins no more.” Once Jesus forgives sins, He will never bring them up again. We have to live with them. It seems we have this burden to help us remember God’s mercy and so that we don’t do that again.
8) Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
Jesus told Saint Faustina that the greatest mercy is reserved for the worse sinner. If we will allow Him, Jesus will instruct us step-by-step how to get on the narrow way to salvation no matter what you have done.
9) He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
One of the first steps to get on the narrow way is to have an attitude of humility. This is hard for many of us have because we have been taught that humility is a sign of weakness. In the Kingdom of God, the greatest are the most humble.
10) All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
It might seem that Jesus loves others more than He loves us. Jesus has a different path for each of use and that means each of our friendship are going to be different. It’s not that He love some of us better than others; He relates to each of us differently.
11) For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Friendship with Jesus gives us access to the power of His name. By asking in the name of Jesus, God the Father forgives ALL of your sins clearing your access to heaven. This is why we end all prayers saying something like “we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ.”
12) Who are they that fear the Lord? He will teach them the way that they should choose.
Saint Thomas Aquinas tell us that when Scripture speaks of having the a fear of the Lord, it is talking about the desire not to do something that would offend or make Jesus unhappy. Having fear of the Lord is showing Jesus the respect He deserves as your God, Creator, King, Savior, and closest friend and striving each day to live according to His ways.
13) They will abide in prosperity, and their children shall possess the land.
Friendship with Jesus promises that we will be taken care of and that our children and grandchildren will be blessed but not always in a way to world expects. We prosper is in the areas that are important to God such as our vocations, our children, our relationship, our sense of purpose, or satisfaction with life, and our peace. These riches are a taste of what is coming in the Kingdom.
14) The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes his covenant known to them.
Those who have moved to the point they are friends with Jesus are at the point they understand what it means to have righteous fear of Him. They are not presumptuous of the relationship. They understand that while Jesus is our best friend, He is also our God and King. We never forget to honor and respect Him.
15) My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
Some of us begin our friendship with Jesus because of what He can do for us. We ignore Him for years but then we get in trouble, we pray, “Jesus if you will do X I will do Y.” Once we are in friendship with Jesus, when trouble comes, there is none of this X/Y bargaining because we know He is already there for us. We ask Him for wisdom to learn from trouble. We know that our human condition requires time to be purified by difficulties.
16) Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
Many of us feel lonely because we lack a relationship with Jesus. If you are struggling finding Him in Scripture and in the Mass, go out among the other lonely and outcast of the world. He is hidden among the poor. They will help you find Him in the Scriptures and the Mass.
17) Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of my distress.
Let go of the lie that you don’t need help and that you can solve all of your own problems. Friendship with Jesus allows you to bring Him into the problems you are having and letting Him help you solve those problems. He will bring you out of your distress.
18) Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
Up until the moment before you die, Jesus wants to be reconciliation with you and close any distance you might be feeling. As the old saying goes: if you feel distance from God, guess who moved. It’s us. Your friendship with Jesus deepens each time you admit that you are sorry and work to confirm your ways to match His ways.
19) Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Being friends with Jesus is costly. It will cost you relationships with others, it could even cost you employment. In some parts of the world, it will cost you your liberty and perhaps your life. As friends of Jesus, we are called to pray for those who persecute us as Jesus did while hanging on the Cross.
20) O guard my life, and deliver me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
The greatest shame of a disciple of Jesus is to know, love, and serve Him, and then to walk away from Him. Doing this puts a soul in jeopardy of death. Not physical death because a soul cannot die like the body does, but death of the soul. This is the death Jesus is talking about most of the time when people separate themselves from Him. Never allow mistakes by humans in the Church separate you from Jesus. If you have walked away from Jesus, come running back!
21) May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
The more time we spend on our relationship with Jesus, the closer we are going to come to Him. The closer we come to Him, the more we are going to become like Him and we will live an upright life. By doing this helps yourself but you also help others. You are going to make me a better Christian by the life you live. Your integrity and uprightness is going to call me on.
22) Redeem Israel, O God, out of all its troubles.
In this friendship with Jesus — which begins with admitting to your heart that you cannot do life without Jesus — you are giving permission for Jesus to dwell within you. He will redeem you out of your troubles with life; however — and this is important — being a Christian does not mean you will be freed from the troubles of life. In fact, you might find you actually have a more difficult life because of Him. With His friendship, we see value in the trouble.
Saint Teresa of Avila is quoted as saying, “Dear Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, it is no wonder You have so few.”
This is the artist you heard in this episode. Not sure why but the music does not start until 25 seconds into the video.
I didn’t cover this in the podcast because I thought I would be way over my self-imposed 35-40 minute. Turned out I was only at the upper end. I was afraid of it going closer to one hour.
Anyway, your homework from this episode is to get your journal, some time alone with Jesus asking Him how you are doing in your relationship with Him. Listen for any insight Him gives you and take action.
If you need some reinforcement, review McAfee’s six items and evaluate yourself. You might also want to review Psalm 25 at least once a week.
May you be open to receiving the blessings that the Father has for you.
May you be open to conforming yourself to the image of Christ, the light of nations.
May you be open to the boldness of the Holy Spirit guiding you to live a life worthy of your calling.
May you be seeking God’s will for your life and doing what brings Him greater glory.
And I for these blessing on you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!
Saint George Preca, pray for us!