We continue this week with a short selection from the book of Fr Robert Hughes Benson, "The Friendship of Christ":
The essence of a perfect friendship is that each friend reveals himself utterly to the other, flings aside his reserves, and shows himself for what he truly is.
The first step therefore in the Divine Friendship is the revelation by Jesus Christ of Himself. Up to this point in our spiritual life, however conscientious or dutiful that life may have been, there has been a predominant element of unreality. It is true that we have obeyed, that we have striven to avoid sin, that we have received grace, forfeited it and recovered it, that we have acquired merit or lost it, that we have tried to do our duty, endeavoured to aspire and to love. All this is real, before God. But it has not been real to ourselves. We have said prayers? Yes. But we have scarcely prayed. We have meditated -- set the points before us, reflected, resolved and concluded; but the watch has been laid open before us to mark our progress, lest we should meditate too long. But after this new and marvellous experience, all is changed. Jesus Christ begins to exhibit to us not merely the perfections of His past, but the glories of His presence. He begins to live before our eyes; He tears from Himself the conventions with which our imaginations have clothed Him; He lives, moves, speaks, acts, turns this way and that before our eyes. He begins to reveal secret after secret hidden in His own Humanity. We have known facts about Him all our life; we have repeated the Catholic creed; we have assimilated all that theology can tell us. Now, however, we pass from knowledge about Him, to knowledge of Him. We begin to understand that Eternal Life begins in this present, for it is to "know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." Our God is becoming our Friend.
On the other side He demands from us what He Himself offers. If He strips Himself before our eyes, He claims that we should do the same. As our God He knows every fibre of the being which He has made; as our Saviour He knows every instant in the past in which we have swerved from His obedience: but, as our Friend, He waits for us to tell Him.
It is tolerably true to say that the difference between our behaviour respectively to an acquaintance and to a friend, is that in the first case we seek to conceal ourselves, to present an agreeable or a convenient image of our own character, to use language as a disguise, to use conversation as we might use counters; and in the second case that we put aside conventions and makeshifts, and seek to express ourselves as we are, and not as we would have our friend to think us to be.