February 6, 2017
WHO YOU ARE AS A DISCIPLE
1. Believe that Jesus Christ is God and came into the world for the salvation of all
Bible: “Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribably and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1Pt: 8-9).
Bible: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (Jn 17:20-21).
Bishops: “Catholics find meaning and hope in Jesus Christ, whom God the Father has sent into the world for the salvation of all peoples” (USCCB, Beliefs and Teachings).
2. Reorient your life in order to follow the teachings of Jesus
Bible: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love” (Jn 15:9-10).
Bishops: “This gospel message gives us a different vision of what life is about. We see a pattern of love, hope, and meaning because the intimate relationship with God in which we were created, lost through sin, has been restored by Jesus, whose death has destroyed our death and whose resurrection gives us the promise of eternal life. We do not see a world of blind forces ruled by chance but a universe created to share God’s life; we know that following Jesus means we begin to share God’s life here and now. We do not view life’s purpose as the gathering of power or riches, but as the gracious invitation to live for God and others in love. We do not calculate what we think is possible, but rather, know the Spirit of God always makes new things possible, even the renewal of humanity. We do not merely look for many years of contented life, but for an unending life of happiness with God. In our faith, we discover God’s eternal plan, from creation’s first moment to creation’s fulfillment in heaven, giving meaning to our lives” (USCCB, Go and Make Disciples, Intro. 21).
3. Grow “in Christ”
Bible: “Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability. But grow in your grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ” (2Pt 3:17-18).
Bishops: “This is crucial: we must be converted – and we must continue to be converted! We must let the Holy Spirit change our lives! We must respond to Jesus Christ. And we must be open to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit who will continue to convert us as we follow Christ. If our faith is alive, it will be aroused again and again as we mature as disciples” (USCCB, What is Evangelization? In Go and Make Disciples).
4. Remain steadfast in faith
Bible: “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (JN 8:31-32).
Pope Francis: “Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey!” (@Pontfex May 28, 2016).
5. Accept suffering for the sake of the Gospel
Bible: “Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Lk 9:23-24).
Bishops: “Jesus was led by the Spirit of God to a life of preaching and service, to the giving of himself in sacrifice. Jesus Christ sends that same Spirit upon everyone who is baptized in his name” (USCCB, Led By the Spirit in Go and Make Disciples, 67).
WHAT YOU DO AS A DISCIPLE
1. Talk openly about your faith
Bible: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for the reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscious clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame” (1Pt 3:16).
Bishops: “Because we have experienced the love of Christ, we want to share it. The gifts God has given to us are not gifts for ourselves. Like the large catch of fish or the overflowing measure of flour, faith makes our hearts abound with a love-filled desire to bring all people to Jesus’ Gospel and to the table of the Eucharist” (USCCB, Go Make Disciples, 33).
2. Create community with other believers
Bible: “For as in one body we have many parts, and all parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and, individually parts of one another” (Rm 12: 4-5).
Bible: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love another. This is how all know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13: 34-35).
Bishops: “Jesus promised to be where two or three are gathered in his name (cf. Mt 18:20). We give the name church to the people whom the Lord gathers, who strive to follow his way of love, and through whose lives his saving presence is made known” (USCCB, Follow the Way of Love).
3. Love your enemies
Bible: “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Mt 5:43-45).
Bishops: “Pope John Paul believed that loving the one who offends you disarms the adversary and is able to transform a battlefield into a place of supportive cooperation. Love of enemies helps to interrupt the spiral of hatred and revenge and break the chains of evil, which bind the hearts of rivals, he wrote. For Pope Benedict XVI, Love of neighbor…consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know” (DCE 18; USCCB, Do Christians Love Their Enemies Even Now?).
4. Champion the poor and marginalized
Bible: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25: 34-36).
Pope Francis: “When Saint Paul approached the apostles in Jerusalem to discern whether he was “running or had run in vain” (Gal 2:2), the key criterion of authenticity which they presented was that he should not forget the poor (cf. Gal 2:10). This important principle, namely that the Pauline communities should not succumb to the self-centered lifestyle of the pagans, remains timely today, when a new self-centered paganism is growing. We may not always be able to reflect adequately the beauty of the Gospel, but there is one sign, which we should never lack: the option for those who are least, those whom society discards” (Evangelii Gaudium no. 195).
5. Personally invest in helping others grow in faith
Bible: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:18b-19).
Bishops: “We must evangelize because the Lord Jesus commanded us to do so. He gave the Church the unending task of evangelizing as a restless power, to stir and to stimulate all its actions until all nations have heard his Good News and until every person has become his disciple” (USCCB, Go Make Disciples, 28).
Bishops: “To create a culture of witness, we must live explicit lives of discipleship. Fortunately, one does not become a disciple of Christ on his or her own initiative. The work of the Holy Spirit within the Christian community forms the person as a disciple of Christ. One seeking to learn how to be a disciple of Christ does so through apprenticeship” (USCCB, Disciples Called to Witness Pt. IV).
Bible verses from New American Bible, the Catholic Study Bible, second edition, Donald Senior and John J. Collins, editors, Oxford Press, 1990.