Week 4 Day 1: Near to the Heart of Jesus (The Beloved Disciple)
“One of his disciples – the one whom Jesus loved – was reclining next to him.”
Near to the Heart of Jesus (The Beloved Disciple)
As we grow in our love for Jesus, we too begin to see Jesus in new ways in the world, in other people. We recognize him often in places where we don’t expect to find him.
-Br. Geoffrey Tristram
This week, we are considering how Jesus has called us to friendship with him: “I have called you friends.” Today, we are reflecting on a beautiful passage taken from the story of the Last Supper. It is the image of the beloved disciple (often taken as John) resting next to Jesus. “One of the disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.” He’s reclining next to him. Actually, the Greek says something much more startling. It says, literally, that the beloved disciple was resting “on the breast” or “on the bosom” of Jesus. That conveys that very deep and special intimate friendship that Jesus had particularly with that beloved disciple.
The wonderful thing is that Jesus calls each one of us to that same level of deep friendship with him, a friendship where we can trust in him, rest on him, trust in him. “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” One of the fruits of that friendship which the beloved disciple had with Jesus, because of the depth of his love for Jesus he actually saw Jesus’ presence in the world in a special way. He recognized Jesus where others didn’t. The love that he bore for Jesus, as it were, opened his eyes to recognize Jesus. Remember how he ran with Peter to the tomb and it’s John who believed. When Peter and John were out fishing, it is John who said, “It is the Lord.”
I believe that we too, as we grow in our love for Jesus, we too begin to see Jesus in new ways in the world, in other people. We recognize him often in places where we don’t expect to find him. The love we have, as it were, opens our eyes so that we recognize him in our midst. So perhaps today, two questions to reflect on: First of all, how might Jesus be calling you now into deeper friendship with him? And secondly, how do you recognize Jesus? Where do you recognize him in the world today?
We invite you to share your answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus
F R I E N D
F ruits of friendship
R ecline with me to rest
I nvite God to have an intimate relationship with me
Give me E yes to recognize and to share His love
N ever forget He is there always
D eeper friendship is all He wants
I realize Jesus is with me every moment of the day, even when I’m not paying attention. There was an instance when I felt him in a very spiritual way. Each Tuesday I help with a supper for the “hungry, homeless and hurting.’ This meal offers people in need food for the body and much more. We reach out to the patrons to pray with them, to listen to them , to make them feel welcomed. One night I was serving one of the dishes to a woman. I looked up and I heard in my heart “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat”. I looked in her eyes and saw Jesus looking back at me. I felt very close to Jesus that night.
Lord Jesus, Heartbeat of the Soul,
As your disciple, you make many demands of me. You ask that I be attentive, diligent, that I persevere in all the work that I do. That I lend a helping hand to all those around me, and offer my support in the hard process of creating, forging and maintaining a strong community. I should offer my ear to listen to their concerns, anxieties, trials and tribulations without complaints of my own – to be patient and sympathetic and understanding – and bring to them a sense of consolation, to offer a glimmer of hope in what can sometimes be desolation. I try to be wholly present to those enduring suffering, and in so doing alleviate their trials in life. But, Lord, only your presence in my life enables me to do those things – for I too need someone to listen to my cries of desperation in a cruel world. I too need someone, you, to heal my frustrations, to award me peace of mind, to bring a halt to the long train of destructive thoughts that can often lead me out of control. I am grateful for your tender and loving attention in my distress and pain.
Lord Christ, Harbor of Tranquility,
One of the most difficult things you ask of me is to find rest amidst a frantic and demanding world, a world that constantly demands my attention – from the most trivial matter to the serious. You ask me to take time out to simply and purely celebrate our loving friendship – to waste time with you… of course, knowing that time spent in your Divine presence is limitless time, eternal and not subject to the fluctuating and inconstant ‘time of the world.’ You ask me to remain cognizant of that special space called ‘Sabbath.’ To relax, to stop, to recline, to lay down the tools of life – and concentrate on that which we have created, to enjoy simple pleasures and take stock of our achievements. O Lord of the Sabbath, you give me this space for the purpose of nourishment, to redeem the wounds inflicted, to restore and revive my flagging spirit. For it is only in the sweet, silent repose of my mind that I can truly enjoy your presence, to bring to an end all the burdens and occupations of daily existence and to realize that you are the shelter from the storms, my rock and my refuge. What great pleasure it is to me to know that, like your Beloved disciple John, that I can recline next to you in pure love, in adoration, in painless attachment… and experience the laughter and joy that can only come from a heart that has become once more like that of a child. Yes, to surrender to the reality and certainty that your being is my eternal existence.
In this place, here and now,
I know that you are present
In a sacred meeting, with you
I pour out my soul, my heart…
In you… your total being
There is no more, only you
The path is complete…
The end to frustrated searching,
Not frantically following, and
Not persistently pursuing,
No vain hope, or expectation
Of indeterminate unknowing
In your presence alone, you…
Grant me precious time and space
The vast territory of eternity
Enclosed within a small space
Victories and defeat vanish
Conflicts cease and dissolve
In unconcerned care, love
Arises in perfect accord
To your pure presence and
The balm of new, never-ending
Streams of crystalline
On the sunlit smile
In your face,
And the gentle murmur
Of your heart
I pray for those whose lives are troubled by the events of the world, may they find harbors of peace and safety, may they experience unconditional love, and learn how to laugh again like children at play on a lazy day in which there are no demands, only the necessity to dance, sing, feast and rejoice in pure living. Amen
Pax – David.
Very beautiful! ❤️
This song really captured the idea for me of at one with
or At One Ment
or Emmanuel …
God with us in Jesus’ walk with us.
“What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
Just tryin to make his way home
Like a holy rolling stone
Back up to heaven all alone
Just tryin to make his way home
Nobody callin on the phone
cept for the pope maybe in rome”
Jesus is my best friend. This I know because of the way I feel when I spend time with him. And the way I feel when I don’t. More and more I’m finding that I cannot function in this life on earth without a constant inflow of him into my being. We recently had house guests, and I was reluctant to take my usual time alone with him in the morning, and I was not in a good state of mind when they left. I do not blame them, only myself, and now I realize it isn’t something I can shortchange.
How do I recognize Jesus? Where do I recognize him in the world today? Mostly I see Jesus in all the compassionate hearts of people I see striving to make the world a better place to live for us all.
Once as a nurse, I was assigned a very difficult, angry, and isolated patient. A complicating factor was that Englidh was her second language. The other staff sympathized with me because they knew I was in for a rough day. She never left her room and nobody visited because her hostile personality drove people away. As I entered her room, I thought, “ I’ll go in and do what I have to do, and get out as quickly as possible”. And as I approached her bed, she raised her fist and began railing at me angrily. But a funny thing happened. First, I noticed a well used Bible Beside her bed, and secondly, I caught sight of the look in her eyes, and it wasnt anger I saw there, but fear. And inside of me there was something I can only call a revolution of consciousness, this was what Mother Theresa would call, “Christ in his distressing disguise.”
That day, I cared for her with loving attention. She was my patient for a month during which time there was a radical change in her as well – she became cheerful – she visited other patients – even the staff grew to love her. Sadly she died at the end of that month. But I am certain she received that ultimate healing of being in Pardise with JEsus.
That encounter with her changed me forever. Now I really do look try to for Christ in the people I see around me .. especially those in deep social distress or need.
Elizabeth, how beautiful. You eased her last days, respected her dignity, cared for her with love, and eased her into heaven. May your eyes that see be ever blessed. ✨
I was doing these readings with a group while visiting in BC & since returning home I am finding it more difficult to discern certain points on my own as I found their sharing enlightening & inspiring but I am persisting . And this particular comment “To look for Christ in the people I see around me…especially those in deep social distress or need” I find profound & will endeavour to continue to do so.
Dear Br. Geoffrey, your messages always touch my heart. I thought of so many hymns and spiritual songs as I read this. Loved reading the words to “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Then another I remember is “Near to the Heart of God.” In the various seasons of my life, Jesus has always been my Savior and my Friend. Sometimes I have ignored His presence; sometimes I have turned away from Him, but the most joyful times are when I have recognized His presence and talked to Him and listened to His voice. He speaks in many ways. Someone has said, “The gods we serve write their names in our faces.” I see so many kind and loving faces. I think that they must know our Lord.
I think of a “friend” as someone I know and like……..a step above an “acquaintance” (a person known to one but not a “close friend.” To me, Jesus is my Lord and Savior, whom I love with all my heart but He is so much more than a mere friend. I do understand from the song, “What a friend we have in Jesus” how you feel.
Jesus called me into deeper relationship with Him by providing the community of people I found in our church, the worship and outreach we do there. This “Meeting Jesus,” daily reading, meditation and writing is the most recent call and those who wish to or can meet weekly to share about the readings. Singing my worship with our Praise Band has been His most constant call to me. Daily invitations from Jesus come in the book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young; given to each of us by our band leader. Our email prayer chain calls us to pray for the needs and thanksgivings of others and is often heard as a voice calling me to act for the well being of another. I find Jesus calling through family, friends and the news, to be His hands and feet as I am able.
Sometimes it is the compassion of another that calls me to action. Entering a McDonald for dinner, we noticed a man who appeared to be homeless, seated at a table coloring a page from an adult coloring book, but no food or drink. We concluded the management had welcomed him in to warm up, as it was cold and windy outside. Later, as we got into our car to leave, there he was in the parking lot, shuffling items in his grocery cart containing his possessions. I felt compelled to give him money for several meals. He asked God to bless us, explaining that his bus pass expired that day so he could buy a new one now and blessed us again. Had the management not welcomed him in, we might never have noticed him.
I have been praying for months asking God to show me the way to help my husband want to change his eating habits to those required by doctor, these foods, high fibre and added Imodium, I was not getting to first base, and praying daily t o God for guidance. One morning as I prayed, Jesus spoke t o me! “You are fishing on the wrong side of the boat, go to the other side, change the bait on the line and you will catch fish!” Clear as a bell! Voila, I had been Working on the wrong side of the problem…..I had baited it with the wrong solutions. I began to bait my rod with patience understanding, love, compassion, Slowly dipping my suggestions in how Jesus spoke to me…an intimacy that I had never felt and suddenly, I knew, Jesus, and went to the other side of the problem and changed the bait and I began to get fish ( ie, results from my hubby). This encounter gave me an intimate awareness that I will always have Jesus in my boat and in my lifeL Amen, hallelujah!
Thanks, SSJE for this very special Daily Lenten series.
Martha Paine , NW Michigan
It may be very difficult at times to see Jesus in others, particularly, if you deal with the public, are stuck in traffic, or dealing with a cultural Christian at Church. A number of years ago, I recall reading the book “Signs of Life” by David Jeremiah. In it he wrote “Perhaps we would be bolder if we could imagine a label-For whom Christ Died-across the forehead of those who cross our path daily”. I’ve had to imagine that phrase numerous times in my life throughout my daily walk with The Lord. And every time it’s been able to temper my response and to turn the situation from a negative to a positive experience. It’s even become the beginning of friendships that continue to this day. I’ve also learned that in order to find a friend, you need to be a friend. Oh, and what a friend we have in Jesus!
James, thank you for the forehead label image, so true and helpful.
This meditation was hard for me, and I need help in understanding it better. The phrase, “the one whom Jesus loved,” in today’s verse and in other New Testament verses, connotes to me a ranking or a favoritism that I would think is an anathema to the way Jesus lived his life. He does not play favorites. He is the good shepherd who searches for just one lost sheep.
Kate, the one whom Jesus loved is sometimes believed to be the gospel writer John, who would have been very young when Jesus was alive. Another interpretation is that John introduced this unnamed disciple into the story as a representative of us. Whenever I see this disciple whom Jesus loved in the gospel, I stop and pay attention because I see the disciple as me. How wonderful to know that I was being thought of as John wrote, knowing that I would need to be able to see myself in the story, would need to know that I too am one who Jesus loves.
I found a lovely statue of an old aboriginal woman sitting cross-legged, cuddling an infant on her shoulder. I thought “oh, I want to be that baby, held so close and lovingly!” I bought the statue and it reminds me how God holds me so close, just like that baby.
We are all that disciple, the one whom Jesus loves!
I, too , run a local Food bank. Last week the street was flooded for our distribution. I managed to get there and open because people were there lined up in front standing in water. I had no volunteers to help carry out boxes but these people who come monthly and faithfully carried out boxes and delivered to those whom we know depend on these boxes. Yes, Jesus was right there with us. With everyone’s help we distributed to 110 families.
It took me while to answer these questions, then I remembered the baby with a young family in front of me in church today. She was so engaging and full of joy, gazing at all the different people sitting behind her, indiscriminately, with no fear or shyness. I felt her purity of spirit, her unguarded openess and inclusiveness. The tender delight and joy I felt in response to her, opened my heart. Was this Jesus saying hello? I think it may have been.
Thank you, Brothers, for developing this Lenten study. My heart is opening and my faith developing through this process.
On Saturday I helped serve soup at our food pantry. People come for bags of food but we also provide them with hot food , coffee and friendly chats while the bags are being prepared. Not only did I meet Jesus there I actually worked along with him. Next time I will be preparing food as well as serving it.
One night , several years ago, Jesus was suddenly standing by me in my kitchen as I prepared the next days’ pot of coffee. Nothing dramatic had happened that day. I just think it was a lagniappe experience for me to be shared with others. I was filled with an electric charge , an infusion of heat and an overwhelming certainty that I was unconditionally loved and affirmed for who I am.
The experience lasted about 15 seconds. It has never happened again but, needless to say, I’ve carried it with me all the years since it happened. I believe he wants me to tell everyone that that’s exactly how he feels about each of us
What a lovely word-Lagniappe-to describe your experience. This, too, happened to me as I sat in church listening to Psalm 139. Once in a lifetime, but it has lasted a lifetime. To be filled with such overwhelming love changed me in such a way that I had to look at the world and the people I met differently…to look for the love of Christ within them.
Anne thanks for your note. I had to look up the “lagniappe experience” I believe you must have had an awesome experience that day. blessings
I teach high school English and see Jesus in a lot of my students. I recently got a new student who was pregnant and I was worried she would be an outcast; however, my students quickly took her in and it didn’t seem to phase them that she was pregnant. I was so proud of them and it really warmed my heart!
Contemplating Brother Tristram’s, as usual, wise and well phrased meditation, i remembered this hymn learned in childhood;
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
My problem, the problem we all face, is not remembering the advice learned in childhood. We can take everything to God in prayer,
It is when I am challenged, sick, angry, hurt, that I feel Jesus calling me to deeper friendship. It is as if He is saying what do you believe? How much do you trust me? How far can you stretch? How much love is in your heart for what I love…For whom I love? Even when I say enough! …this is just too much to deal with …. Jesus draws me back and his words wind themselves around my heart to rework, re-imagine what I had thought impossible. There is no greater, more patient friend.
I had a tough time with this one. When Ii pray, I pray to God and almost never through Jesus. I recognise Jesus as the embodiment of acts of goodness by persons, groups of persons and other living beings. I constantly thank God for sending Jesus as his Son to die on the Cross so that my sins will be eternally forgiven, and further still, to rise again to give me those gifts of faith, love, peace and charity which I strive, at times very weakly, to follow and give. In the end, the Holy Trinity is equilaterally bonded as a powerful, united and unbreakable force of God as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I see trinities of goodness everywhere.
I, too, pray primarily to God. I have a difficult time when I try to keep Jesus separate from the God, and for that matter, from the Trinity. I appreciated your note, Bryan. Hoping this program will draw me closer to Jesus. So far, not so much.
Jules, remember the prayer which Jesus taught his disciples, ” Our Father…” So that is my model. I address God, our Father, but I always end it in the name of Jesus. “Whatever you ask in my name, that I will do…” The Trinity is involved in prayer: to the Father, in the name of the Son and in the Spirit of His Love. We don’t need to analyze it; it just comes naturally.
Jesus is my friend. He will help me move on from my cancer and this devastating surgery into my life of service for Him. I see Him most often in the faces of other people and more recently in the face of my sister.
I have to admit I’ve sort of avoided this, and I do need to look for the face of Jesus more. I do have one amazing story: an older friend of mine, a Jewish atheist who is one of the best actual followers of Jesus I know in terms of “walking the walk,” said to me once that he was telling a mutual acquaintance of ours, a devout Christian and classical singer, how he felt it was so important to do good in the world, just because it needed doing (this guy has set up strong programs in education that start with 6 year olds at risk and supports them through college, among other things). He said as he was telling the singer his story, the singer looked at him with such love that he felt it was how Jesus would have looked at him. It really stick with him. This man is in hospice now, and I just know he’s going to see the face of Jesus for real very soon. Because he actually followed him.
Your story touched me deeply, The Christ of all eternity shines everywhere.
I recognize Jesus in my own home, usually after my morning prayer time, when my mind and heart are most filled with the awareness of God. My prayer is that I will carry this consciousness with me as I step out the door and meet others during the day.
Jesus as my friend. Oh what a comforting thought! I hope Jesus and I are friends. I see Him in the smile of a fellow volunteer at my church. I know he is the hero of a tragic event. But I also look for Him in the downtrodden, perhaps standing in line for a free breakfast on Sunday morning? This program has awakened my spirit to look for Him in others and myself.