Do you ever wonder what it means to be a disciple of Jesus?
After all, is it one thing to be a believer and another thing to be a committed disciple?
Lots of people see themselves as believers, but “disciple” entails a special awareness of our relationship to Jesus and a special strength in following him. Today, we have been invited by the Church to see ourselves as both disciples and missionary disciples. Pope Francis is very clear about this.
So what does discipleship entail? (1) An explicit relationship with God, a sense of having encountered God through Jesus. (2) An ongoing integrating of faith and daily life, so we are always growing in our faith. (3) A willingness to be accompanied by other believers and to accompany them ourselves. (4) A commitment to serve others. And (5) using our Catholic spiritual treasures (prayers, practices, devltions) to deepen our faith.
Jesus’ call to us begins with our baptisms when we receive the name we have forever as our identity before Jesus, and when, after baptism, we are anointed with the sacred oil that makes us sharers in Jesus’ Priesthood, Prophecy, and Kingdom. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7K5h87r_TlE ) This means that Jesus Christ becomes our personal guide; as we come to experience him and his love, we grow in our capacity to pray, to hear the Word of God and share that Word, and to shape our lives in accord with the loving will of God.
Jesus has called us to follow him not only for our own personal growth or consolation; he’s called us to be participants in the building of the Kingdom of God, that network of loving relationships between believers and God that slowly brings transformation to the world.
The cost of discipleship is putting Jesus at the center of our lives; the benefits of discipleship come from know that God is using us to shape a future of joy and love for humankind. Look at the sacrifices parents are willing to make for the sake of their children? How they will do whatever is necessary for the good of their child . . . Yet there is no loving parent who does not do this joyfully because the parent’s joy is bound up with the good of their child.
Jesus gave himself in many ways to help those afflicted and needy. Do we think for a moment Jesus did not rejoice to do this? We can think of discipleship—and missionary discipleship—as the privilege Jesus gives us to live in his generous joy.