What makes a Disciple?

28 March 2007. Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent
John 8, 31-42. What makes a disciple?

When we claim that we are disciples of Jesus, what do we truly mean? Does being a disciple mean minimally as going to mass every Sunday and other holidays of obligation? Does it mean going through faithfully the rituals and traditions of the Church? Does it mean just believing in Jesus, as many nominal Catholics or Christians do? Does it mean knowing the vocal prayers and having devotions? The Gospel of John today points out what Jesus really mean by discipleship.

First, a prerequisite: disciples totally believe their master. They accept what Jesus says and does. Disciples assent with their whole heart, will and soul on what Jesus says. Jesus addressed His words in the Gospel to the Jews who have come to believe in Him.

Second, a maintenance: disciples remain faithfully in the words of their Master. How do they remain in the word of Jesus? Disciples constantly listen to the words of their master. Thus, if we are sincere with our discipleship, we listen to the word of God. Listening does not only involve reading the Scripture, but listening to God in prayer. What is God saying to us now? In addition, we do not only listen, but we constantly desire to know Jesus. Knowing a person means knowing the facts of the person. We must know Jesus since childhood — grounding our knowledge of Him from Scripture.

For example, if you say that you love a person, but you do not know the facts of the person, then your love is empty. What is the name of the person? The circumstances of his birth? His family’s background? His likes and dislikes, beliefs and values, etc. Love begins with something concrete. Or else, we might be loving an idea of that person, than the person himself.

Third, a discovery: disciples discover the Truth in their life, on which they build the foundation of their life. When we anchor the Truth on Jesus, all else that is not within Jesus’ teachings becomes unacceptable. In the truth of Jesus, we see what is important to us and what is not.

Finally, a freedom from: disciples become free from their fears such as being alone; free from themselves such as being controlled by their own despairs and hopelessness; free from their sin such as being determined by our inordinate attachments. There are many instances of unfreedom that addicts experience: We are helpless when gripped by them — proof we are unable to resist them even though we know we can.

With these four elements of belief, maintenance, discovery and freedom, we might be able to evaluate the quality of our discipleship to Christ.

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