The Year of Faith which we have just begun is not a programme of activities. It is a deeper project than that. It is an invitation to deepen our frienship with Christ. This idea of friendship with Christ is a recurring theme of the pontificate of Benedict XVI.
Jesus Christ is not just a figure of history, somebody who came and went. Because he conquered death by rising to new life he is with us now and for always. If He has simply died like other great men of the past, history might tell us something about him. But that would not help us to really know Him. As St. Augustine says, we come to know a person only through friendship and friendship is possible only with someone who lives. Friendship with Christ, sharing his life and sharing our life with him, is the heart of our Christian faith.
Jesus Christ is a bit like a programme for life. He tells us ‘I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full’ (Jn. 10:10). Jesus Christ is a person and invites us to meet him as a friend.
Many Young people today hear his voice. I have seen them in their thousands at World Youth Days and other youth gatherings. I have seen their enthusiasm and joy. I have experienced it in Africa and now at home in Ireland. You may think Christ would ask too much from you. But a friend who really cares for you is there to help with forgiveness, support and advice, and Jesus Christ is our greatest friend.
This year, the Year of Faith, offers us a unique opportunity to make the necessary adjustments in our lives to develop more deeply our friendship with Christ.