Friendship with Christ. That all Christians may cultivate a deep and personal friendship with Christ so to communicate the strength of his love to every person they meet.
Pope Benedict XVI's recent book, Jesus of Nazareth, stresses that being Christian depends on building an intimate friendship with Jesus. It's the great theme of his entire life's work. That he makes it his general prayer intention for June shows that friendship with Christ is still uppermost in his mind and that he associates it as well with devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Sometimes Catholics are taken aback when confronted by this question: "Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?" Our answer should be, "Yes, I do. Jesus is a close personal friend of mine." The Pope wants us to pray that all Christians may cultivate a deep personal friendship with Christ because without it what can be the substance of faith in Christ? Without friendship with Jesus, how can we communicate his love to others?
In his homily at his inaugural Mass in April 2005, Pope Benedict said: "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 speak to others of our friendship with him."
Friendship is a connection of hearts. The love of Jesus for us comes from his Heart. Our response to his love must come from our hearts. Referring to the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Father wrote that this "devotion, which is totally oriented to the love of God who sacrificed himself for us, has an irreplaceable importance for our faith and for our life in love." Because it speaks of Christ's redemptive suffering, the Pope affirms that the "basis of the devotion is as old as Christianity itself."
The Holy Father said, "We so often feel, and it is true, that we are only useless servants. Yet, in spite of this, the Lord calls us friends."
How has your friendship with Jesus Christ developed over the years?
John 15:13-15 — "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father."
International Eucharist Congress. That the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec may lead to greater understanding that the Eucharist is the heart of the Church and the source of evangelization.
In an apostolic exhortation, Pope Benedict XVI made the following connection between friendship with Christ, the Eucharist, and evangelization. "In my homily at the Eucharistic celebration solemnly inaugurating my Petrine ministry, I said that ‘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.'
"These words are all the more significant if we think of the mystery of the Eucharist. The love that we celebrate in the sacrament is not something we can keep to ourselves. By its very nature it demands to be shared with all. What the world needs is God's love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in him. The Eucharist is thus the source and summit not only of the Church's life, but also of her mission: ‘an authentically Eucharistic Church is a missionary Church.'"
It's beautiful too to reflect on those words while praying for the International Eucharist Congress being held in Quebec this month. What is the ‘mystery of the Eucharist' of which the Holy Father speaks? It is the truth that Jesus is alive in the Sacrament. He gives himself to us so that we can share him with others.
We Apostles of Prayers likewise practice a Eucharistic spirituality. We respond to Jesus' gift of himself to us — his original atoning death re-presented daily in the Mass — by our daily offering to him of our entire day, including all our ‘prayers, works, joys, and sufferings,' in the words of our traditional prayer. We do it for the salvation of others throughout the world. We do it out of love that is nourished by the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We call it our "profound, simple way of life."
This month we are challenged by the Pope to pray that many in the Church and outside the Church may come to a deeper understanding of the Eucharist, the heart of the Church and the source of evangelization.
How does receiving the Eucharist relate to your personal friendship with Jesus and your witnessing to him?
1 Corinthians 11:26-27 — For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.
Daily Offering Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
Prayer of the Month
Official prayer for the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec
God our Father,
we bless you and give you thanks
for your Son Jesus, the gift of your love
for the life of the world.
Watch over your Church
as it celebrates in joy and hope
the 49th International Eucharistic Congress.
Renew our faith in the Holy Eucharist,
the memorial of your Son's death and resurrection.
May your Holy Spirit shed light upon us
and grant us strength to serve
as faithful witnesses to the Gospel.
Nourish us with your Word and your Bread of Life
so that united with Mary, Mother of your Divine Son
and Mother of the Church, we will bear much fruit
for the salvation of the world.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.