Kathy Bernard - Publisher

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens  
the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."
 - Revelation 3:20


Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? 

Webster defines a relationship as a "connection or bond that exists between two people.  An affinity or a link that ties one to another".  In a spiritual sense, it is a relationship that unites each of us to the higher power of Jesus Christ.  It is totally personal, for each of us has an alliance that is exclusive.  In addition, it is the willingness to hand over our lives into His hands through trust and faith; a personal consent to lay all things before Him, knowing that He will be there in times of need.  We are invited to "just call to talk" through prayer knowing He is always available to listen to the good as well as the bad things.  He asks only that we believe and have faith in Him, and He promises in Matthew 28:20 that He will be with us always, even to the end.    

Can Jesus Christ really be your friend?  And if so, how can we get a personal relationship with Him?  Speaking on how we can know Jesus to the 25,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI began his address by noting that St. Paul himself distinguishes two ways of knowing Jesus.  In Paul's Second letter to the Corinthians, he tells, "Even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him no longer.  To know someone "according to the flesh," the Pope said, "means knowing them from the outside; how someone speaks, moves, etc.  And yet, one does not really know a person from mere externals", he explained.  The only way to truly know someone else is with the heart, unlike the Sadducees and the Pharisees who only knew Jesus superficially."

God has put something unique and precious within each of us.  It cannot be seen, but it guides us away from imperfect sin.  It is called the Holy Spirit and we each are blessed with it.  But the Holy Spirit does not force us to recognize He is there.  It will lie dormant until we acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord of our life.   Therefore we must invite Jesus Christ into our hearts of our own volition.  We do this by accepting His 'knock on the door' in our hearts and accept God's  re-birth through His Son's sacrifice on Calvary.  The scripture reads in John 3:3  " I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." See also John 3:7 and 1Peter 1:23.

"For each one of you, as for the Apostles, the encounter with the Divine Teacher (Jesus) Who calls you friends may be the beginning of an extraordinary venture; that of becoming apostles among your contemporaries to lead them to live their own experience of friendship with God, made Man (the Son), with God Who has made Himself my Friend."  Pope Benedict XV1, INIV Congress 4/10/2006.    

And again, addressing an audience in Vatican City in 2008, the Pope referred to St. Paul's relationship to Christ and reminded the faithful that for Paul, "Jesus is alive, speaks for us and lives with us. ..St. Paul does not think of Jesus as a historian would; he does not see Jesus as a figure of the past.  He certainly knows the tradition regarding His life but does not treat Him (Christ) as someone in the past but as the reality of the living Jesus.  Jesus lives and speaks with us today.  This is the true form of knowing Jesus and the tradition about Him."   

I am reminded of a story about a bumblebee, who accidently fell into an open tumbler.  Even though he was able to fly, sadly he could not see beyond the walls of that clear glass.  It never saw the means of escape at the top, but persisted in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom.  Around and around he went until he finally gave up and forfeited his life, never realizing that freedom was right there waiting at the top.  In many ways, some people are just like that. They are trapped in the glass of earthly living and strife, and never take the time to look up.  If left there, they will be imprisoned, lost in the wiles of this earth, never realizing that if only they would look up, they would see Jesus holding out a hand, carrying the gift of salvation.  Alas, they miss the joy of a personal encounter.

Is it hard to live as a Christian?  Yes, many times it is.  And why is it hard?  Because Satan rules this earth and we are born in sin.  Through temptation, Satan tries to make us to lose faith and therefore our salvation by dangling the hidden desires of our hearts before us.  Satan dresses up sin so well it is hard to turn away. 

Father Gerhart Habison was born in Vienna, Austria.  He graduated from the Akademisches Gymnasium High School, and studied at the University of Economics from 1961 through 1965.  He then attended the Archdiocese Seminary in the Ninth District of Vienna from 1969 to 1972, and  the Institute Catholique in Paris from 1973 to 1975.  He was ordained in 1976 and became a member of the Ecumenical Pro Oriente Foundation which was founded in 1960 in Vienna by Cardinal Koeing.  In an interview with CatholicView several years ago, Father Gerhart had this to say about having a relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ: "God's quality of love actually is the key and the reason we can relate to Him.  In John Chapter 15 it says, " It is not you who have chosen Me, it is I who has chosen you."   And God chose us in love and revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ and this revelation was continued by the Holy Spirit..   In the Old Testament it is said we should have no image of God.   But then He gave us His Son Jesus Christ.   God Himself gave us His image so we can relate to Him on a human level."  In John 14:9: "Jesus replied to Philip, “Have I been with you all this time and yet you still don’t know who I am?  Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?" 

"Indeed, Jesus Christ is the way to the Father.  By His life, death and resurrection He opened the way for us.  In the Gospel Jesus tells us: No one can come to the Father unless/except through me.  Without Jesus we could not understand God at all.  But the Holy Spirit whom He sent us is as important!  God is a Triune God.  It is through Christ, through the Holy Spirit and through friendship with our Savior that allows us a working relationship with Him."

Father Gerhart continues, "You probably noticed a certain perspective which I favor because of my personal experience and so I want  to talk about my religious background and how God has guided me until today.  When people say they are converts, I cannot even say that.  At one time I was a neophyte.  It means newly baptized because my parents did not bring me up in any religion.  They had lost their faith before they got to know each other and they just had a civil marriage. God’s Grace was not involved.  And whatever their reasons, they had left the church.  And they, especially my father, thought it would be their unholy duty to keep me and my two sisters away from the church.  My parents were successful to some extent but I found out there were people who believed in God.  I couldn’t take part in religious education or anything to do with religion.  In fact, I never saw a church from the inside.  So life without knowing God was not good and without being able to experience His Graces conveyed through the church is a very sad life.  That is what I found out.  And very early, from the age of twelve, my biggest question was not this and that, sports or sex, it was “What is the reason and the meaning of my life?”  Because I didn’t have one.  Without God there is no reason or meaning.

"The Grace of God reached me through various persons and events and Catholic teachers orchestrated something in me.  I was very aware of that.  Friends, Catholic friends, not necessarily my schoolmates because they were more or less like myself but others,  various works of art, literature, good movies, and gospel music made an impression on me.  During my studies of economics when I was out of high school I was touched by the media reports about Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council and finally I decided to read the Bible at age 21.  In the newspapers, there was a long story about Pope John and at that moment I said to myself  “I’ll get myself a Bible”.  I’ll buy a Bible and I will read it.  Actually I had read a few verses in the Bible before.  And so, I read the Bible and was immediately captured and overwhelmed.   This was a book with maybe twelve hundred pages which would normally take me a week to read but I knew I couldn’t read it that fast. It would take me longer.  It took me four months or more. Then the New Testament said “Those who believe in Me and have been baptized will be saved.”  I thought, 'that’s for me'.  After  “one on one” catechism sessions with a Capuchin Friar I received baptism on October 6, 1964."  

If we open our hearts, Jesus will come in and live with us.  If we close our hearts, we distance ourselves from Him.  It is our own human decision.  Psalm Chapter 145 tells us: "The Lord is near to all who call."  Receiving Christ means turning away from sin and giving ourselves to Him.   But if I just agree on an intellectual plane that Jesus Christ is the Son of God Who died on the cross at Calvary for my sins, this is not sufficient.  It is not enough to have a casual moment of reflection.  No.  I must invite Him into my life through absolute trust, with my acceptance an act of free will.  Only then will He come and reside within me.  I must give up self through love and complete faith in Him, finally realizing I am nothing without Him in my life.  With that love, He will forge a relationship with me and I with Him.  He will open my soul to uplifting comprehension and I will be loved as I have never been loved before, surpassing all human understanding. 

All of us who have experienced this extraordinary encounter with Jesus Christ know that we have been cleansed and stamped "redeemed" through His precious blood, and one day He will take us home to live with Him in glory forever. 

Accept it with faith and continue to move forward in His Grace and love.


"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will
listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me."  
- Jeremiah 11-13





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