Robert Hugh Benson: Mary Magdalen and the Risen Jesus Tuesday, Apr 10 2012 

“Mary!”

“Rabboni!”

But there is still one more lesson for her to learn.

As she throws herself forward, speechless with love and desire, to grasp His Feet

– to assure herself even by touch that it is these same feet indeed which she kissed in the Pharisee’s house, and on the Cross of Calvary

– that it is Himself, and no phantom

– He moves back from her.

“Do not touch me, for I am not yet ascended to my Father.”

“Do not touch me.” . . .

That Friendship is not what it used to be: it is infinitely higher.

It is not what it seemed to be, since the limitations of that Sacred Humanity are gone

– those limitations by which It was here and not there; by which It could suffer and grow weary and hunger and weep

– limitations that endeared It to Its lovers, since they could indeed minister to It, comfort It, and hold It up.

And Its expansion in Glory is not yet consummated – “I am not yet ascended to my Father” –

that expansion of the Ascension and the Nine Days’ Journey through the Heavenly Hierarchy, from the position “a little lower than the angels” to the Session and Coronation at the right Hand of the Majesty on high

– that expansion of which the Descent of the Holy Ghost is the expression, and the Sacramental Presence of that same Humanity on a hundred altars the result.

And then, Mary, the Friendship shall be given back in “good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over.”

Then that which thou hast known on earth confined by time and space shall be given back to touch and handling once more.

Again thy Friend shall be thine own.

The Creator of Nature shall be present in that Nature, unlimited by its limitations.

He who took Humanity shall be present in Humanity.

He who spoke on earth “as one having authority” shall speak again in the same accent.

He who healed the sick shall heal them in the Gate called Beautiful; He who raised the dead shall raise Dorcas in Joppa; He who called Peter in Galilee, shall call Paul in Damascus.

A Friend again He shall be, as never before: a Creature exercising the power of the Creator: a Creator clothed with the sympathy of the Creature; God suffering on earth, and Man reigning in Heaven.

But a Friend, first and last, in Alpha and Omega; a Friend who has died in the humiliation of Friendship; who has risen and reigns in its Eternal Power.

Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914): The Friendship of Christ, chapter13.

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Robert Hugh Benson: He Tears from Himself the Conventions with which Our Imaginations have Clothed Him Friday, Aug 5 2011 

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.

[…] But after this new and marvellous existence, 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.

[…] 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” (John 6:3). 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….  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.

This then is required of us in the Divine Friendship.

Up to now our Lord has been content with very little: He has accepted a tithe of our money, an hour of our time, a few thoughts and a few emotions, paid over to Him in religious intercourse and worship. He has accepted those things instead of ourselves. Henceforth

He demands that all such conventions should cease; that we should be entirely open and honest with Him, that we should display ourselves as we really are – that we should lay aside, in a word, all those comparatively harmless make-believes and courtesies, and be utterly real.

Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914): The Friendship of Christ, chapter 2.

Robert Hugh Benson: He Has Come Down from the Painting on the Wall – My Beloved Is Mine and I Am His Friday, Jul 29 2011 

It seems inconceivable at first sight that a relationship, which in any real manner can be called a friendship, should be possible between Christ and the soul.

Adoration, dependence, obedience, service, and even imitation – all these things are imaginable; but until we remember that Jesus Christ took a human soul like our own,…until this becomes to us, from a dogmatic fact apprehended by faith, a vital fact perceived by experience, a full realization of His friendship is out of the question.

For just as in the case of ordinary persons the plane of real friendship lies in the communion of the two souls, so it is between Christ and a man.

His Soul is the point of contact between His Godhead and our humanity. We receive His Body with our lips; we prostrate our whole being before His Divinity; but we embrace His Soul with ours.

Human friendships usually take their rise in some small external detail. […] Now the Divine Friendship – the consciousness, that is to say, that Christ desires our love and intimacy, and offers His own in return – usually begins in the same manner.

It may be at the reception of some sacrament, such as we have received a thousand times before; or it may be as we kneel before the Crib at Christmas, or follow our Lord along the Way of the Cross.

We have done these things or performed these ceremonies dutifully and lovingly again and again; yet on this sudden day a new experience comes to us.

We understand, for example, for the first time that the Holy Child is stretching His arms from the straw, not merely to embrace the world – that would be little enough! – but to embrace our own soul in particular.

We understand as we watch Jesus, bloodstained and weary, rising from His third fall, that He is taking our own very self in particular to help Him with His burden.

The glance of the Divine Eyes meets our own; there passes from Him to us an emotion or a message that we had never before associated with our own relations with Him.

The tiny event has happened! He has knocked at our door, and we have opened; He has called and we have answered. Henceforth, we think, He is ours and we are His.

Henceforth, we think, He is ours and we are His. Here, at last, we tell ourselves, is the Friend for whom we have been looking so long:

here is the Soul that perfectly understands our own; the one Personality which we can safely allow to dominate our own. Jesus Christ has leapt forward two thousand years, and is standing by our side;

He has come down from the painting on the wall; He has risen from the straw in the manger – My Beloved is mine and I am His….

Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914): The Friendship of Christ, chapter 2.