How to be a disciple – Jun 9
Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News
In order to respond to Jesus’ call to “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News” we must look at our call from Jesus to be His disciples – not only after the example of the saintly Apostles and disciples of the past but also in our own circumstances today.
The seven characteristics of a disciple:
1. It is always Jesus who initiates the call to follow Him and become His disciples. (See Mark 1: 17, the call of Simon and his brother, and Andrew 2: 14, the call of Levi.)
2. A disciple of Jesus is called to break totally from his or her past. This is compared to a seed falling into the ground and dying (John 12: 24).
In Mark 3: 31-35, Jesus said the one who does the will of God is mother, sister, and brother to Him. Discipleship is a call to enter into the Paschal Mystery of Christ which we do at each Eucharist.
3. Our ordinary way of thinking and acting is changed into thinking the thoughts of God and Jesus. Some customary values are to be radically set aside in this following of Jesus (Mark 1: 41-45). The call makes demands of us, makes possible the break with our past, and gives us a new vision and future.
4. A disciple is a person who experiences life with Jesus and has a lifelong relationship with the very person of Jesus.
5. As a disciple of Jesus, one is sent out to witness to Him, to become a “missionary”, that is, to announce the Good News which is Jesus Himself.
6. According to Luke in the Acts of the Apostles, all disciples are believing Christians who are sent out to bring Jesus and His message to everyone. Matthew, too, tells us “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations” (28: 19). Discipleship becomes a universal call to holiness and witnessing to Jesus.
7. A personal relationship and experience of Jesus leads our discipleship into the intimacy that the Beloved Disciple had with Jesus and then with Mary. Phillip Mueller states: “The one who, like the Beloved Disciple, rests at Jesus’ side will receive a deeper view of reality and of the meaning of discipleship – wherever such a path may lead.” (Theological Digest. Summer 2010, p 157.)
Having analysed the criteria for being a disciple, we now look at ourselves and see how we are disciples of the Lord. We are baptised persons. A baptised person is a child of God, a sister or brother of Jesus, and an heir to God’s wealth of grace and life eternal, called to build God’s reign here on earth. A baptised person is a member of the “priesthood of the faithful”.
Christ sends His faithful ones into the world to transform the values of societies and individuals into those of the Reign of God, to minister to people as He would minister to them. Before His passion and death, He prayed for all His disciples, present and future. “They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17: 16-18). Christ identifies His disciples with Himself, as citizens of heaven. As a body, they are united with the Father to the same degree the Son is united with the Father and the Holy Spirit in perfect unity.
The priesthood of the faithful is made up of married, single celibate, religious and widowed men and women, each with special gifts and opportunities to serve, according to each one’s state in life. Therefore all people should earnestly seek to develop the qualities and talents bestowed on them in accord with these conditions of life.
For the Christian, the whole world is full of opportunities to do God’s work, to proclaim the Good News…AT HOME, AT WORK, AT CHURCH, AT SCHOOL, AMONG FRIENDS. This call to the priestly building of God’s Kingdom begins with faith, which is both a gift from God and a personal assent to the person, life and teachings of Jesus Christ as proposed by the Church.
The laity cannot be effective if they are not educated and constantly updated in their faith. What steps are you taking to update your faith?
As layperson, teacher/catechist, how do you build the Kingdom of God in your life, in the lives of others?
How can you make Jesus present in the world through your presence to others?
How do you live out discipleship in your life as a catechist/ teacher?
“A VIBRANT Catholic identity and active promotion of Gospel values in Catholic schools help foster generations of disciples and evangelists.”
(Excerpts taken from “The 5 W’s of Our Catholic Faith AND HOW WE LIVE IT” by Mary Carol Kendzia , which appears in the April/May 2013 edition of CATECHIST magazine.)
Julie Jennings-Chan, Archdiocesan Catechetical Office