Our ultimate friend

Faith Connections invited The Most Reverend Gerard Paul Bergie, Bishop of St. Catherines, to usher in a new year of Theology on Tap on Monday, January 27. Through a combination of anecdotes, jokes, and a brief lesson on salvation history, Bishop Bergie discussed the concept of friendship.

Starting with the biblical passage:

“I no longer call you servants…but I have called you friends.” (Jn 15:15)

Bishop Bergie explained that God is our ultimate friend. While human friendships may wax and wane, God has never given up on us, even in our darkest times. God is ever rich in mercy, the pinnacle of which is Jesus by whose death and resurrection we are saved from the perils of original sin.

Since all friendships require give and take, Bishop Bergie pointed out that there are several things we need to do to be a good friend of God. Going to Mass for instance, should be viewed as time “visiting our friend”, as the life of the Church is designed to deepen our friendship with God. The Commandments, when viewed from a friendship perspective, should be a list of ways to show God we love him, not a list of rules we must abide by or else. Such participation in Church life should be out of a sense of love, not out of duty.

After time spent in group discussion, Bishop Bergie took questions from the audience, including:

“Thinking about Jesus as your friend, if you don’t have that relationship with God and see him as far and away, what would be a good first step?”

His Excellency’s response: Starting a relationship with God is like beginning any relationship — begin with an introduction, which in this case would be prayer. While our earthly friends may contact us if we loose touch, God does not. God respects the gift of free will. Since God doesn’t force himself upon us, it is easy to loose touch and forget to pray. To rekindle our relationship with God, Bishop Bergie suggested the simple prayer:

Lord, help me to get close to you.
Lord, help me know you as a friend.

— by Audrey Reid