Discipleship

Jesus’ mission was to spread the Word of God, this was his dream. His vision was that things could be better and he needed followers to help him achieve his mission. In Mark’s gospel, he introduces the first four disciples; he mentions how they obeyed Jesus and how they gave up everything to follow him. Simon and Andrew were preparing themselves to go fishing, along came Jesus and he said, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men. ” The brothers left their things at once and followed him. He did exactly the same thing to James and John, sons of Zebedee.

Jesus wanted them to come and be his disciples, he wanted them to help to bring people closer to God and to turn away from sin. Jesus never met these men before and they certainly did not know Jesus, yet when Jesus called upon them, they left everything, responded rapidly by following him. It shows from one glance they trusted and believed in what Jesus had to say to them. Jesus made a huge impact on them, the disciples obviously had great trust and fondness of him, also dedication to become a disciple. He made them forget about themselves in order to serve God.

Jesus did not want his disciples to be a rabbi, member of the council or any other important position. He was looking for ordinary men, to take up his important role for them. The first four disciples were only fisherman and were no one special. Yet Jesus thought there was something deep inside their hearts which did make them special. Another example of this was, Levi (later known as Matthew). He was a tax collector and because of his occupation, no one wished to associate with him. But when Jesus met him, he did not discriminate against him.

He accepted him, and he knew that Levi would be suitable for the role of one of his disciples, no matter what he did. In chapter 3, each of the twelve disciples is named. These twelve have accepted their role as a disciple. Simon is given a bigger role and he will, later on, become the first pope of the Christian church. Jesus has changed his name, to Peter. Jesus set the final twelve, tasks so that they could show the world Jesus’ example. The tasks were: “That they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. ”

They were set out to preach the word of God and they were there to be Jesus’ companions. Jesus sent the disciples to put into action what they learned from him. His strict instructions were not to be burdened with possessions and material concerns and to be focused on the tasks being set before them. He wanted them to go out with him to teach and preach through their actions. He wants them to be the mustard seed, the sower, the lamp and the seed growing secretly. He wanted them to be the ‘leaven, light and salt’; he wanted to show other people, how they should act in order to get even more in the afterlife.

They were instructed to take nothing with them but a stick, they weren’t to take food, a bag and any money with them and they were allowed to wear sandals but not a second coat. If they entered a house, they had to stay there until they were ready to leave that town. If any place didn’t welcome them, they were to shake the dust of their feet, as a testimony against them. ‘Deny yourself take up the cross and follow me. ‘ To put oneself last and put others before themselves. The disciples should be ready to give their life up to follow Jesus, to develop Jesus’ way of thinking and to be faithful to him even to the point of death.

Discipleship involves suffering, rejection and death. Those that refuse the challenge of becoming a disciple, they will find that Jesus does not recognise them as members of the community. They were supposed to accept that they should be prepared to give up their life for someone else. That if they give up their lives now, they will be rewarded, and they will save their place in God’s kingdom. Those who respond to their future award in this life will receive eternity in God’s Kingdom. ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?… hoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister, my mother.. ‘ In order to belong to the family of Jesus, one must belong to his company. One must not stay outside but come in and do the will of God. The reward of discipleship is that if you give up a hundred times as much in this life then in the Kingdom of God you will be given a hundred times as much. ‘But many who are first will be last, and the first last. ‘ If you give up everything, to follow Jesus and obey Jesus’ teachings and put them into action you will be rewarded.

Those who put themselves last will then be put first in the Kingdom of God. Those who are faithful to the Word of God will be respected in heaven. Although the disciples had never met Jesus before, they still managed to believe in him and saw something wonderful about Jesus, even from face value. They had an idea how hard it would be as a disciple, yet they still carried on and wanted to help Jesus achieve his dream. A disciple is someone who follows Jesus’ way and learns from his preachings. For Christians today, we are called by God in Baptism to become a disciple.

Gradually, when we come to Confirmation and the Eucharist we can fully understand the tasks set for us. The tasks asked of us are to preach what we learn in Mass and put what we have learned into action. We are asked to be Jesus’ companion, to be close to him and to share our worries and problems with him through prayer. Anyone can be a disciple if they put their mind and heart to it, but they must realise its not easy. The same rules apply nowadays if Christians wanted to be a true disciple of Jesus. If we do try to be a disciple but keep failing, it doesn’t matter; Jesus will forgive every time.

The fact that we are taking his preachings into account and showing them that we want to be with him and we love him and we want to be in the Kingdom of God. Those who do well will be rewarded in the next life. People who have their ears and eyes open will have more given to them to replace the things they gave up in their previous life. Jesus wants every single one of us to be like the mustard seed. ‘ Your Kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. ‘ We can all put discipleship into action, by helping the Lord in his own home. By helping others in the way of ; in the church.

Many ways of helping in the church community are: by attending church on a regular basis ; sharing your words ; thoughts with him, singing in the choir, church cleaning, flower arranging, learning about the faith, preparing for one of the sacraments, helping others preparing for one of the sacraments (catechists), reading, minister of the Eucharist ; helping those underprivileged in society. Professional followers want to seriously ; faithfully re-enact as the life of a disciple ; follow Jesus. The religious life of contemplative nuns is to give up everything to follow Jesus, help Jesus to preach through prayer.

They take 3 vows: to live in poverty, chasity ; obedience. Active nuns do take these vows aswell but the difference is they preach by helping others in the community. They could help raise money, help children in need, teach etc. Priests also follow the life of a disciple. They promise God celibacy. They preach the word to their parish community ; administer the sacraments. St Francis of Assisi Francis was an Italian preacher. His father was a wealthy merchant. In a battle, Francis was kept captive in Perugia. While in prison he suffered a severe illness ; then he tried to alter his life.

Assisi, 1205, he set up charities among lepers ; began working on the repair of run-down churches. He did this because he had reportedly had a vision ; the crucifix of the ruined chapel of San Damiano at Assisi ordered him to repair it. His change of character ; his charity work infuriated his father, who disinherited him. Francis got rid of his rich garments for a bishop’s cloak & devoted himself to the care of outcasts & lepers in Mount Subasio. Francis began preaching & gathered 12 disciples who became the original brothers of the ‘First Order’.

In 1224, after 40 days of fasting, Francis was praying on Monte Alverno, when he felt pain mingled with joy, the marks of the crucifixion of Christ, the stigmata appeared on his body, resembling the heads of nails. He was taken back to Assisi where he suffered physical pain & was almost totally blind. He was canonised in 1228. In 1980, Pope John Paul II proclaimed him the patron saint of ecologists. In art, the emblems of St Francis are the wolf, lamb, fish, birds & the stigmata. His feast day is October 4. ‘Children can’t be disciples so they can’t be Christians either’ I do not agree with this statement.

Children are & should be able to be baptised as a Christian from the early days of their lives & from then on be able to adapt & develop an understanding from a young age of the life of Jesus. From a young age they can be taught to live a good life. If children weren’t supposed to learn about Jesus, fewer people would’ve become Christians because if you include Jesus in your life at a very young age then you’re more likely to grow up being a better Christian ; a true disciple because you have loved God all your life. We can then, when we’re ready (& older) commit ourselves to God fully by Confirmation & the Eucharist.

We can be seen as a mature & sensible member of the church. In baptism we have our original sin taken from us & become a member of the Christian community. In ‘The Little Children ; Jesus’ (Mk 10:13-16), the disciples rebuke the children who want to listen & be around Jesus, Jesus tells his disciples to leave them alone, those who do not act like a child will not enter the kingdom of God, for children’s willingness ; curiosity would make them the right people to follow Jesus, so the disciples ; other followers should act like children. Children are curious, willing to learn, logical, innocent ; loving.

These are very similar to the qualities, in which Jesus wants us to have; he wants us to see our way in life through the eyes of a child. Children should not be shifted aside ; forgotten about, they are the people of tomorrow, they matter in society ; they will become adults one day so why should it matter if they are children, they could become great priests, disciples, followers or great religious leaders in the future. But I do see the other point of view, people would think children are too nai?? ve, silly ; immature ; could not understand the right reason for what we have been put on this earth for.

A child does not have knowledge or wisdom but that does not mean that they cannot be gained. Children should be prepared in baptism ; decide for themselves in conformation, if they want to carry on as followers ; have true faith in Christ. People would say to be a disciple you should be able to trust ; be trusted ; have a sense of responsibility, children do not have or know of this, ; therefore cannot in no way be a Christian for this reason. Interview with Father Michael, the Parish Priest at St Bartholomew’s Parish in Norbury. What inspired you to become a priest?

I became a Catholic when I was 13. I was already a practising Christian & read the Bible each day. I soon started to serve at mass. I was inspired partly by the Parish Priest in Norbury, Father Carolin. I also attended vocations weeks run by the Carmelites. I originally wanted to be a missionary but eventually joined the Southwark Diocese. The reasons for becoming a priest changed from age 14. I wanted first to help people – I enjoy working with all kinds of people. I was attracted by the person of Jesus, to follow him. Becoming a priest seemed the best way of doing this.

I was also keen on acting & drama & so the theatrical side of the Liturgy was also an attraction. What do you like most about your work? Being a school chaplain, celebrating mass & the sacraments, visiting the sick with Holy Communion, and visiting people. Being of help to people at time of bereavement, preaching, and music. In the past I enjoyed being a school chaplain & being chaplain to the Cathedral choir. I also enjoy just meeting people, there is little I don’t enjoy. What do you like least about your work? Preparing couples for marriage when they have no interest in religion.

I enjoy most of the administration but some parts are a bit boring. Reading through endless papers for school governors. People complaining ; being unreasonable. How do you see your vocation in terms of discipleship? Now of course we have rediscovered the dignity of the lay state, that all baptised people are called to follow Jesus either as single people, married or religious. We all share the vocation of the baptised. As a priest I am called to conform myself to Jesus in a closer ; more radical way through prayer ; life. Jesus calls us to take up our cross ; follow him.

All vocations involve suffering. Celibacy means being available for God ; others – making space for God. In having no wife or family of my own I am called to be the spiritual Father to my Parish. As a priest I am called also to a simple lifestyle ; a willingness to obey the Bishop. All these things are ideals ; priests do not always achieve these ideals. In rejoicing with people when they are happy ; comforting them when they are sad, I try to like Jesus who was all things to all people. The priest is called to be another Christ (Alter Christus).

Part of the dying to oneself is the willingness to move from one Parish to another, this is difficult sometimes because you are changing both house ; job. It is not easy facing strangers for your first Sunday in a new Parish. You get used to it though. Why are there not as many people making this commitment now as in the past? There are of course the third world countries – the seminaries are full. This is partly due to the fact that in those countries people still respect ; value the priesthood ; becoming a priest offers a good education ; some status in society.

These are not the best reasons but they explain why in the past so many became priests – it was also part of the culture as in Ireland. Families were more prayerful ; united – also had more children. People expected you to become a priest. Today there are so many other opportunities to get further education ; so many jobs to do. Priests do not earn much money – there is no wage as such. It is all charity. People today find it hard to make any kind of commitment – hence the fall in marriages ; rise in living together. The issue of celibacy must also put some people off.

Many want to marry ; have a family. There is less respect ; status involved on being a priest but there is still some. Today many who become priests do so in their thirties after a university education ; good job. They often come from non-religious backgrounds ; may have become Catholics at university. So people today do not become priests for the money or status. They often have plenty of that – they become priests to help others ; to make a difference. But in some places the seminaries are full – we have African ; Polish priests serving in our parishes now.

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