Photograph Courtesy of Steven Depolo
Making God Our Friend
Many of us claim to be God’s friends yet we are not in touch with Him; who is always with us until the end of times, (Mt 28:20). However, though God is always in our midst, if we befriend the world; He cannot come to our assistance. Worldly Friendship is temporal. We should strive for God’s Friendship that leads to everlasting life. The reason why St. Peter was given the mandate to be a shepherd of God’s flock regardless of denying the Lord three times, is because; he had developed a deep friendship with Christ. Bishop Robert Barron informs us that to become a saint, we must simply become God’s friends. We develop our friendship with God in the following ways:
Prayer: Mother Teresa saw that, Prayer makes our hearts bigger, until they are capable of containing the gift of God Himself. As a conversation with God, prayer makes us to contain God as our friend from our hearts. However, our prayers should be sincere. We have to do what St. Theresa of Avila affirmed that: we must fully raise our minds and souls to God. Such a prayer becomes in our lives what St. Theresa de Lisieux described in her life as hidden arms that made things possible for her. Pope Francis describes such a prayer as a courageous prayer that makes miracles to happen in our lives. Some Christians have no time for a sincere prayer in their lives because of “work”. May be, they have not listened to what Qoheleth, avers that; “I worked on a grand scale: built myself palaces, planted vineyards; made myself gardens and orchards, planting every kind of fruit tree in them…I amassed silver and gold…So I grew great, greater… I denied…my heart no pleasure…I then reflected on all that my hands had achieved…What futility it all was, what chasing after the wind! (Ecclesiastes 2:4:11). As Christians, we should emulate Jesus’ Prayer life.
Cherishing God’s Word: The word of God is a source of: a virtuous life and a prayerful life, it is a guide to conversion and an instrument that enables us to correct our faults and vices. The Sacred Scriptures enables us to have a deeper relationship with God. This is why Thomas Merton saw that listening to God’s Word wholeheartedly is a kind of worship that we render to God who is the source of all truth. Jerome’s words should always echo in our ears that unless we listen to God’s voice that speaks to us with our hearts, we become ignorant of Christ, who is our Savior.
Repenting our sins: The only medicine to wash our many sins is; repentance. God is joyful and ready to accept us when we go back to Him as He understands our sinful nature. We should never fear the temptations that come to our way as even Jesus Christ was tempted. However, we should always seek God’s assistance during such times. This is what made St. Paul to proclaim that “None of the trials which have come upon us is more than a human being can stand. You can trust that God will not let you be put to the test beyond your strength, but with any trial will also provide a way out by enabling you to put up with it”, (I Cor 10:13). Mother Teresa encourages us that as Jesus disciples, we have to bring all our weaknesses to Jesus and only open our hearts to be loved by Him as we are; as He will always do the rest. In Psalms we read: “Yahweh guides a strong man’s steps and keeps them firm; and takes pleasure in him. When he trips he is not thrown sprawling, since Yahweh supports him by the hand, (Ps 37:23-24). Thus, in our sinful nature, and worldly temptations, we have to always know that God is always ready to support us by His hand. When we fall, we have to only remember of going back to God by confessing our sins as it is evident in the book of Proverbs that: “whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy”, (Prov 28:13).
Avoiding bad company of friends: St. Paul warned us that bad company corrupts morals, (I Corinthians 15:34), as they distance us from God. For a saint like Teresa of Avila, through her spiritual director, God asked her to abandon certain friendship in order to develop His relationship with her through the angels. When she abandoned them, she was able to serve her God putting her heartfelt trust in Him alone. In the book of the proverbs, we are warned against bad companies. That is; “The violent lures his neighbour astray and leads him by a way that is not good”, (Prov 16:29). We should always seek to be in the company of Triune God, Blessed Virgin Mary, Angels and Saints.
Trusting God: True friendship, is manifested in trust. This means that regardless of our situation in the world, we should always know God as our strength who will not let us down. In 2 Chronicles, we see that we have Yahweh our God to help us fight our battles, (2Chr 32:8). It is God who arms us with the strength to do anything in this world, (2 Samuel 22:33). Paul in his letter to the Roman comes up stronger when he states that those who put their absolute trust in God, have the Spirit of God in them, (Rom 8:5-6). This spirit of God is so powerful to an extent that, nothing can defeat us. Prophet Jeremiah knew this and that is why he affirmed that: “Blessed is anyone who trusts in Yahweh, with Yahweh to rely on”, (Jer 17:7). Therefore, as God’s creatures, what we have to sing together with the Psalmist is that: “I keep Yahweh before me always, for with him at my right hand, nothing can shake me. So my heart rejoices, my soul delights, my body too will rest secure”, (Ps 16:8-9).