Many people identify themselves as Catholic but are surprised to be called a disciple. Yet, that is what we are. To be a disciple means putting our faith into action.
The vast majority chooses to be inactive—disciples in name only. A true disciple does not keep quiet and when tested, always upholds the truth. That’s what Jesus did. If we want to be like the Master, which is the goal of every disciple, then we have to follow the example of Jesus. Means that we must be familiar with His life. The Gospels are filled with examples of how Jesus treated people, especially sinners—how He went out of His way to forgive the guilty—when confronted about the Law—Jesus chose to heal people rather than obey the Sabbath observance. Naturally, He got into a lot of trouble, ultimately paid with His life. Knowing that His followers would encounter the same opposition, Jesus told His disciples, “If you want to be my disciples, you must carry your cross daily and follow me.” Yes, Jesus already paid the price for our sins. Yes, we get a free ride to heaven. No doubt, that we are loved beyond all our imagining. However, the world still needs witnessing of the Gospel because the “harvest is abundant but laborers are few.” Folks are ready but no one is inviting them to change their life, to make a commitment, to come to the Banquet of Holy Communion. Many have still not heard the message of freedom and are stuck in the guilt of their past. The popular misconceptions continue to be circulated: “Catholics worship Mary and the Saints. Once you get divorced, you’re kicked out. If you go to the Catholic Church they don’t let you read the Bible.” Indeed, there are countless misconceptions that are perpetuated because of ignorance. “The harvest is abundant but laborers are few.”
Of all the job openings, the call to discipleship is the least attractive. “I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals.” Doesn’t sound like what most of us are interested in doing. We like security; some guarantees; a promise of success. With Jesus there are no guarantees. What He promises is to be with us always, especially in the face of persecution. Jesus knew that rejection would be part of being a disciple. “If they welcome you—great. If they reject you—move on.”
Faith sharing is different than selling raffle tickets. Fact is that we are not selling anything; we are inviting others to look inside themselves to discover what is already there. A person would not exist, would not be alive if Jesus Christ was not inside of them. Worst notorious sinner in town—such person has never been abandoned by God, they just haven’t been aware of His presence, usually because of anger, resentment, guilt. One kind word can make all the difference. But who is going to say it? Who is willing to touch the untouchable? If we say that we are disciples, we have no choice but to be like Christ. Perhaps the more rejection we encounter, the more we can be certain that we are like Christ. The world is not ready, might never be ready. Shouldn’t stop us. Keep in mind that witnessing is not always with words. Actions speak louder than words. Fidelity, good example, not using violence—folks are always watching, always listening, particularly young people. Whatever spiritual shape our society reflects is the society we have created. “Bad wolf is fighting the good wolf—both are inside of us—which one will win? The one that we feed.” The battle will never be over until the end of time. Meanwhile, which wolf will we feed? Which one dominates our thoughts? We all want to see the good wolf win. We have to be the change that we want to see. Peace begins with each of us, especially in how we treat our family. At times the most difficult place to be a disciple is at home.
We don’t have to have our act together or be versed in the Catechism. What is necessary is our sincere love for Christ. He will provide all that we need to be His disciples.