We're almost at an end. I intend to break the application up into two posts, so after this merely two more and then I may start a discussion of St. Alphonsus's little treatise on prayer or on Uniformity with God's will. We'll see.
from "Christ Altogether Lovely"
Rev. John Flavel
Fourthly, Christ is altogether lovely in the relation of a friend, for in this relation he is pleased to acknowledge his people, Luke 12:4, 5. There are certain things in which one friend manifests his affection and friendship to another, but there is not one like Christ. For,
1. No friend is so open-hearted to his friend as Christ is to his people: he reveals the very counsels and secrets of his heart to them. John 15:15. "Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knows not what his Lord does; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you.
2. No friend in the world is so generous and bountiful to his friend, as Jesus Christ is to believers; he parts with his very blood for them; "Greater love (he says) has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," John 15:13. He has exhausted the precious treasures of his invaluable blood to pay our debts. O what a lovely friend is Jesus Christ to believers!
3. No friend sympathizes so tenderly with his friend in affliction, as Jesus Christ does with his friends: "In all our afflictions he is afflicted," Heb. 4:15. He feels all our sorrows, needs and burdens as his own. This is why it is said that the sufferings of believers are called the sufferings of Christ, Col. 1:24.
4. No friend in the world takes that contentment in his friends, as Jesus Christ does in believers. Song of Songs 4:9. "You have ravished my heart, (he says to the spouse) you have ravished my heart with one of your eyes, with one chain of your neck." The Hebrew, here rendered "ravished," signifies to puff up, or to make one proud: how the Lord Jesus is pleased to glory in his people! How he is taken and delighted with those gracious ornaments which himself bestows upon them! There is no friend so lovely as Christ.
5. No friend in the world loves his friend with as impassioned and strong affection as Jesus Christ loves believers. Jacob loved Rachel, and endured for her sake the parching heat of summer and cold of winter; but Christ endured the storms of the wrath of God, the heat of his indignation, for our sakes. David manifested his love to Absalom, in wishing, "O that I had died for you!" Christ manifested his love to us, not in wishes that he had died, but in death itself, in our stead, and for our sakes.
6. No friend in the world is so constant and unchangeable in friendship as Christ is. John 13:1, "Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." He bears with millions of provocations and wrongs, and yet will not break friendship with his people. Peter denied him, yet he will not disown him; but after his resurrection he says, "Go, tell the disciples, and tell Peter." Let him not think he has forfeited by that sin of his, his interest in me. Though he denied me, I will not disown him, Mark 16:7. 0 how lovely is Christ in the relation of a friend!
I might further show you the loveliness of Christ in his ordinances and in his providences, in his communion with us and communications to us, but there is no end of the account of Christ's loveliness: I will rather choose to press believers to their duties towards this altogether lovely Christ, which I shall briefly conclude in a few words.
Summary--no friend is as open-hearted, generous, sympathetic, impassioned, and constant. No friend is so able to bring contentment, peace and delight to all His friends. No friend loves as this Friend.
Jesus is our friend, our advocate, our constant intecessor, our companion. When we grow unaware of Him, it is not because He fails, but because we are weak and stubborn.
The Friendship of Christ is a prize beyond measure and beyond accounting. And that friendship costs so little. Indeed, even in making friends we gain much. We spurn a spurious "freedom" that enslaves one to the things of this world to achieve a true freedom that allows one to serve as part of God's Kingdom. We abandon the lies that substitute as a life and learn the Eternal Truth. We quit false comforts and seductions, and take instead the true Comfort of the one true Comforter, friend and advocate who prays for us when we do not know how to pray.
Jesus is a friend whose friendship is beyond our reckoning wonderful. His friendship is at once the most important thing and the only thing. Praise Him in His perfection as Friend.
Soon, we'll talk about what this entire long sermon means and how one actually uses anything said to improve one's life in God. That's one of the things I truly love about a well-constructed sermon or homily--one takes away something to act upon.
(And that reminds me of something I was remiss in not saying. I attended only a daily Mass at which Father Jim presided, but he gave a wonderful short homily--not spending the entire time trying to tell me the intricacies of what the particularly Bible passage meant [althought there was some of that], but instead gave me one solid positive thing to act upon. Which I did for about a week, which is why good homilies are important every week. Because, poor mortals that we are, our attention is captured for perhaps a week at a time and then trails off. Anyway, if you're out in the Woodbridge area, you could not do better than to stop in at Our Lady of the Angels. Each priest there is wonderful in his own way, and I was blessed by my attendance.]