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Prophet, Messiah, Friend

  • MSGR. ROBERT HUGH BENSON

We read of his works of power and are conscious of awe and adoration.


samaritanwomanBut when we read how he sat weary at the well-side while his friends went for food; how in the Garden, he turned in agonized reproach to those from whom he had hoped for consolation—What?  Could you not watch one hour with Me?—when he turned once more and for the last time used the sacred name to him who had forfeited it forever—Friend, whereto art thou come?—we are conscious of that which is even dearer to him than all the adoration of all the angels in glory—tenderness and love and compassion, emotions to which friendship alone has a right.

Jesus Christ speaks to us more than once in the Scripture, not merely in hint and implication, but in deliberate statement, of this desire of his to be our friend.  He sketches for us a little picture of the lonely house at nightfall, of himself who stands and knocks upon the door and of the intimate little meal he expects.  And if any man will open—(any man!)—I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me.  Or again, he tells those whose hearts are sick at the bereavement that comes upon them so swiftly, I will not now call you servants…but I have called you friends.  Or again he promises his continual presence, in spite of appearances, to those who have learned his desires.  Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst.... Behold, I am with you all days.  And, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me….

Now the consciousness of this friendship of Jesus Christ is the very secret of the saints.  Ordinary men can live ordinary lives, with little or no open defiance of God, from a hundred second-rate motives.  We keep the commandments that we may enter into life; we avoid sin that we may escape hell; we fight against worldliness that we may keep the respect of the world.  But no one can advance three paces on the road of perfection unless Jesus Christ walks beside him.  It is this, then, that gives distinction to the way of the saint—and that gives him his apparent grotesqueness, too—(for what is more grotesque in the eyes of the unimaginative world than the ecstasy of the lover?).  Common sense never yet drove a man mad; it is common sense that is thought to characterize sanity; and common sense, therefore, has never scaled mountains, much less has it cast them into the sea.  But it is the maddening joy of the conscious companionship of Jesus Christ that has produced the lovers, and therefore the giants, of history.

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Acknowledgement

bensonrhMsgr. Robert Hugh Benson. "Prophet, Messiah, Friend." from The Friendship of Christ (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1955).

The Friendship of Christ is in the public domain.

The Author

benson6benson2 Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914) son of the Archbishop of Canterbury, became a Roman Catholic priest, a novelist, and a prominent writer of apologetics. Benson was the youngest son of E. W. Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, who, as head of the Anglican Church, was the upholder of the Protestant establishment in England. Hugh Benson was lauded in his own day as one of the leading figures in English literature. His works include theological writings, such as Paradoxes of Catholicism, An Average Man, By What Authority?, Christ in the Church, The Religion of the Plain Man, and The Friendship of Christ, as well as novels, among the most famous of which are Lord of the World and Come Rack! Come Rope!

Copyright © 1955 Public Domain
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