The Discipleship Paradigm
There are certain buzzwords around us in Church circles. Evangelization is one. The New Evangelization is another. The there is the word discipleship. Just what is it? Both words, evangelization and discipleship are used to apply to so many things they really seem not to apply to anything.
So just what is discipleship? I think today’s first reading helps to show a few components to things that must be present. They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. This sentence from the Acts of the Apostles provides the overall components of a good faith life.
The teaching of the Apostles. We live in a time where it appears that people can say almost anything about anything. How often is it we here of the relativity of truth. You have your truth, I have my truth. (Until of course my truth tells me that I can have whatever I want of yours. Then it is a different story.)
We can run the risk of the same problem when it comes to faith. You have your faith and I have mine. But who really knows what is true? Except we do know what is true. Just as the first believers went to the apostles, so too do we today. The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides a summary of our beliefs.
It must be the case that we engage our faith and reason to see the beauty and the richness of our faith. Faith and reason have been described as the two wings of a bird in terms of the essential nature of both. It is not a blind faith, but a faith guided by reason to help us to understand it. And not only reason, as if we could know Jesus only using our minds.
The communal life. We are called to follow Jesus as a community of believers. It was not that Jesus called only one person to discipleship, but rather he offered the invitation to all to become believers. We are not lone wolves in our discipleship, but rather are a pack, called together in communion by the Holy Spirit.
We are called into the Church as people who believe as members they can form the body of Christ. Discipleship means to follow Jesus the Christ into heaven when we respond to the invitation he gives us. He knows that we cannot go it alone, for life is hard, there is sin and brokenness, and it is essential to have the prayers and support of the community.
The Breaking of the Bread. Of course, at the heart of the Church is the Eucharist. We are not disciples of Jesus if we never choose to enter into the breaking of the Bread, or the Eucharist, the Mass. When did the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognize Jesus? In the breaking of the bread. We are not people of the Church if we are far away from the sacraments Jesus gave to the Church.
The prayers. Discipleship entails both the personal prayer we do, and the public prayer as well. There is, of course, Mass, but there are other aspects of prayer that I think make a significant difference (and reading this passage from the Acts of the Apostles, so too did they.)
It is not simply at Mass either. There are those extended Mass moments, like adoration, that help us to gaze on the loving Jesus. We cannot do things our own. We need Jesus in all we do. It is in the breaking of the bread that our discipleship is sustained.
So, as you think of you think of your discipleship, think carefully of this passage from Acts, which helps us to see the way of life Jesus calls us to believe.
On the friar, you can listen to our homilies (based on the readings of the day) and reflections. You can also ask us to pray for you or to pray for others. You can subscribe to our website to be informed whenever we publish an update.