God desires an Intimate Friendship

Last week we discussed how honesty was an important first step in our Lenten journey.  If we are going to turn our lives towards God, we needed to be aware of what we are turning away from.  This week, as turn our focus to God, it is important for us to allow ourselves to ask, what does God want with us?  The answer: God desires intimacy. 

Our Gospel is filled with moments of intimacy.  Jesus brings his closest friends up the mountain with him.  This time is meant to be a moment of prayer, friendship, capped off by a transcendent experience.  We are on a mountain, and in scripture, mountains are places of experiencing God.  Jesus desires intimacy with his friends. But Jesus also has a very intimate moment with God – the Father.  A cloud comes and we hear a great voice, This is my son!  Listen to him! Jesus once again is claimed by the Heavenly Father as His son, whom he loves, but this time God offers a command: “Hey you three, listen to him.” In other words, Jesus speaks with the Father’s authority.

Friends, the intimacy that Christ experienced is also meant for us. God wants intimacy with us.  Before moving on, I think now would be a good time to clarify what authentic intimacy looks like.  Authentic intimacy is where reciprocal love, mutual desire to know the other, and full acceptance of the other.  Jesus and the father have a profound reciprocal love for each other, they know each other particularly through Christ’s moments of prayer, and we see the Father’s full acceptance of his son.  In our world, the most obvious example of intimate relationships are between holy marriages.  In these types of marriage between a husband and a wife, they choose to love each other freely with coercion, they never stop discovering more from the other, and they accept each other – with all of their faults and gifts, they accept and belong to one another.  Not in a possessive way, but in a beautiful offering of self to the other.

A mistake we sometimes make is that intimacy belongs exclusively to marital relationships.  But, Jesus clearly had an intimate relationship with his father. He most certainly had it with his mother Mary.  And he clearly had intimate relationships with his disciples, I know longer call you slaves, but call you friends (John 15: 13).

The gift that God wants to give each of us is intimate friendship.  God desires that himself with us.  And God desires us to experience intimate Christian friendships with each other. How do we grow in intimate friendship with God?  Well, the answer is given by the Heavenly Father himself.  Listen to Him, God says.  Listen to Jesus Christ.  The place where this listening occurs is in our prayers life.

Prayer ACTS

Contrition – Sorry for our sins

Thanksgiving – Lord thank you for ….

Supplication – Lord please help ….

Adoration à ARRR; this is the heart to heart conversation that develops between God and us.

God desires intimacy with us, all we need to do is desire the same with him.

In Christ’s love and friendship,

Fr. Stephen

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Last week, I told you how my brother Dave and I love to play one-on-one basketball. Well, we finally played this past Friday. And, honestly… I was good.

But, if I’m being honest, I was just hoping i wouldn’t pass out.

So, to be hones, I was exaggerating, when I say, “I was good.”

It’s interesting though, sometimes we say that word honestly, or that phrase, to be honest, and what follows is sometimes a lie, or at best an exaggeration.

Honestly… The show “This is Us” had an episode with this as the title. Honestly. In the show two of the main characters Kevin and Kate, who are siblings, are having a conversation about their family and the issues they are dealing with related to their mom and other brother. Kate says in a moment of vulnerability, “Kevin I think all of us are trying to deal with issues from our past today. We all have baggage you know.” Kevin feels slightly hurt because he thinks he knows everything about his sister. But in this moment, he has no idea what she is talking about. He doesn’t do a great job hiding this hurt and says in a defensive tone, “what do you mean you have stuff, what stuff?” Kate says, “Nothing… honestly Kevin I’m just tired its a been a really wrong day.” The scene ends with Kevin looking perplexed, concerned, and feeling lied to. He knows that he missed an opportunity to be their for his sister. And he knows that when she said “honestly its been a long day” what that really meant was, “honestly i don’t trust you to open up about this…”

On Thursday, there was a prayer service for priests. A group of people involved in Encounter Ministries, wanted to host an evening of adoration for priests and offer a chance for us priests to be prayed over. Fr. Colin and I decided to go, in fact, we both decided to keep one another accountable. By that I mean, we couldn’t decide we were “too tired” to go. It was a commitment, we were going.

We arrived at the church and the evening of prayer began. It was simple, there was appropriate prayer music in the background, we had adoration of the blessed sacrament, and there encounter prayer teams ready for priests if they wanted to receive prayers. I remember i looked at Jesus in the Sacrament and said, “Lord, I don’t know what to pray for right now.” then in an instant I felt like I had everything to pray for. Which left me paralyzed. What do I tell this group of people? Finally I settled on what I needed to bring to prayer. So I went back to the team and allowed them to pray over me. Immediately they asked how they could pray for me, and I said, “you, know I really struggled with that before I came back here. In what sense I could think of nothing to ask for and then I thought I could ask for everything.” But really what i was struggling with was how honest I wanted to be. How much was I willing to disclose to this group of people.

But here’s the point: Unless we live our lives with honesty. Nothing changes. The character Kate, will not receive healing until she opens up to somebody. Until she can be honest about the baggage she carries nothing will change. Unless we are willing to let others pray for us, for the things that we truly need without regard for how it makes us look, we will continue to feel alone in our struggles. Unless we are honest with God about where we are in our spiritual lives nothing will change.

Honestly, a couple of months ago, I gave that homily about our call to holiness and I used my struggle with weight as an example. I did not want to talk about my weight that weekend. But I did so because it was an important moment to acknowledge honestly for myself where I was at with my own health. Someone who struggles with alchohol will not be free from addiction until they are honest with themselves about the problem. Repent and believe in the Gospel, says Jesus, and the only way we can turn our lives to Lord is if we do so honestly. As we begin our Lenten journey, maybe the best thing we can do is go to the desert with Jesus and honestly tell him about our struggles, our sins, our doubts, and where we need him.

In Christ’s love and friendship,

Fr. Stephen