DISCIPLESHIP: AN IMITATION OF CHRIST

Given to the Divine Mercy Apostolate St. Jude Parish, Davao City February 16, 2010

I. Introduction It is not an exaggeration when we say every Christian is invited to be a disciple of Jesus. The topic of Discipleship, that is universal in character, is one of the central themes of the Gospel. The call of the first four disciples – Simon, Andrew, James and John (Mt 4: 18-22) constitutes the scenes of vocation that are the beginning of the history of discipleship. Jesus’ life and public ministry are open invitations to discipleship because he reveals himself as “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). All humanity is looking for the way, the truth, and the life. Hence, he invites all to embrace his discipleship. In fact the invitation to discipleship is addressed to all men and women who desire to be incorporated into God’s Kingdom. Jesus explains God’s Kingdom1 through parables, miracles, healing, and exorcism of demons, etc. These are the ways of calling people to discipleship. How do we respond to this call according to the conditions he presented? Questions: 1. How is your Christian faith now? 2. As Christian, how do you exercise discipleship? II. Disciple and Discipleship • The word disciple means “to walk behind, to follow.” In the New Testament one became a disciple only when called by Jesus himself (e.g., Mark 1:17; 2:14). To become a disciple, therefore, was to enter into a lifelong relationship with Jesus (Mark 3:14) and even to share in his suffering and death (Mark 10:39; 8:34). In other words, a disciple is a follower of the way of Jesus. The way of Jesus is the way of love – a love that is selfless, self-emptying, self-giving. In the Greek sense of the term, it is Agape, a love that is unconditional. In others words, it is also the way of the cross – a love that is willing to “lay down one's life for one's friends” (Jn 15: 13). (Insert Topic on LOVE) • Discipleship is a vocation. A person never becomes a disciple of Jesus except by a vocation from him. Jesus explained the specialty of his discipleship saying, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (Jn 15:16). • Discipleship is a response. Once the call has sounded, response must be immediate. It means that there should be perfect readiness to follow and to conform to him. This call does not seem to be a command, but a gift. Fascinated at the gift, they leave behind their old self and relatives. • Discipleship is a call to the imitation of Christ. The disciple was to act as Jesus himself: with compassion, humility, generosity, and suffering service of others (Mark 9:33-50; 10:4245). • Disciples are called to make a commitment. From the disciples, Jesus wanted a commitment without reserve and with immediate effect (Lk 9:61; 9:59). Following him means entering irrevocably into a fellowship of life with him. Hence Jesus was careful to warn against thoughtless decisions to follow him (Lk 9:58; 14:2833). The disciple’s availability must be so complete that he
1

Jesus said of his purpose, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."(Jn 10:10). Mark says that Jesus came to "give his life as a ransom for many"(Mk 10:45); Luke, that he was sent to "preach the good news of the
Kingdom of God" (Lk 4:43) and John, that he came so that "those who believed in him would have eternal life" (Jn 3:16). He commissioned his apostles to carry on his work, his purpose.

She was a Listener of the Word. living in profound communion with him (Mk 3:14). CMF. • In Paul’s writings we see his invitation to “imitate” him as he imitates Christ (1 Cor 11:1. 2 . To follow the way implies metaphorically to follow the Risen Jesus (Crucified-Glorified Jesus). Jesus Formation of the “New Family Around Him” as a Prototype for the Formation to Consecrated Life. Quirico Pedregosa. 4 Our greatest model of discipleship is Mother Mary. • The one who calls the disciples has set the path and the style of life for identifying with the master. I know them and they follow me” (Jn 10:27). III. he walks in front of them and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice” (Jn 10:4). Conditions of Discipleship3 A. E. • Jesus presents himself as the “way” to the Father. Jesus puts himself forward as the model to be followed when he says. take up his cross each day. More than narrating the conditions to be disciples. and accepting his way of life (Mk 10:45) D. “Learn from me. for I am gentle and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29). In fact the imitation of Christ and the discipleship of Christ are closely associated in the theological understanding of following Jesus. • Following Jesus means that the followers must become part of his family in accordance with the will of God (Mk 3:34-35. Phil 3:17. participating in his destiny. and it cannot be and need not be altered. The definition of Christian identity can be nothing other than the following of Jesus: “Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self. cf Mt 10:38)." (Mt 12:50) 3 Manuel Ezharampil. Central to the mission of Jesus is to do the will of the Father. “For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother. “to be sent out in love to others by Jesus belongs to the very identity of his disciples. from the beginning to the end (cf Gospel of John). It cannot be compatible with worldly standards.4 • In John we see a different picture of discipleship in the metaphor of the shepherd and the sheep. The very purpose of election. She is thus the Perfect Disciple of Jesus and a perfect model of every Christian who would like to follow Jesus. formation and finally sending them out to the world is to continue Jesus’ mission in this world. Becoming part of the family. would say. Based on Jesus’ invitation to follow him in the Gospels. C. “My sheep hear my voice. Listening to master’s voice. Paul presents God as the direct object of imitation: “Be imitators of God as his dear Children” (Eph 5:1). Identifying with master’s destiny. The Kingdom of God that the disciples are looking for is pure gift and grace that the disciple must embrace in humility and faith in God. • Disciples are called to continue Jesus’ mission. 2 Thes 3:7. and mother. This total commitment is a basic necessary element involved in following Jesus.” • A disciple of Jesus is the one who is supposed to identify himself with Jesus. Imitating the master. 3:9). Religious Life Asia.” Jesus said. 1 Thes 1:6. so that he might be used for any service whatsoever. Fr. and follow in my steps” (Lk 9:23. cf Mk 8:34. • The discipleship demands renouncing of self in specific ways. and sister.2 Jesus’ mission was to show the way of salvation to the whole humanity. here Jesus is presented as the good shepherd and the disciples are those who have recognized and acknowledged him: “When he has brought out all those that are his. B. July-September 2003. Self-renouncing towards a new self. Jesus’ disciples are designated as followers of his “way. O. She was present in Jesus life and mission.P. 4:16. Thus.goes so far as to hate his own life (Lk 14:26).

therefore. no quantifiables. It is to reproduce in us the image of Jesus’ or another Christ (in persona Christi). which is unconditional and self-emptying. Jesus shows the supreme of love. 5 At the Last Supper Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and told them: “I have given you a model to follow. As I have loved you7.• Christian life is a matter of living. then it is for the very evident reason that each member of this community is in fact one’s immediate “neighbor. This is how all will know that you are my disciples. Jn. Hence. to follow.” 6 We cannot really appreciate the challenge of this commandment unless we have a full grasp of the depths of Jesus’ love for us. 8 Christian discipleship according to the Gospel of John means a “willingness to ‘bear witness’ to one’s faith in Jesus in a hostile world. • Becoming new person and a new humanity is a result of a dynamic and creative imitation of Jesus and his teachings. I give you a new commandment: love one another6. a disciple is a follower of the way of Jesus. To love one another as he loved is to give oneself wholly and fully here and now to the other. a true discipleship demands a dynamic movement. So it is in this totality of self-donation that the new element in the commandment of love is to be found. love for one another within the community of believers is the permanent sign of its belonging to Christ. to follow or imitate Jesus. This is the process that allows Christ to raise within us a new person and a new humanity.” thus. open to new ideas and continuous change and updating without forgetting that our purpose is to recreate the original model.” if he singles out the members of the community of believers.” perryjunq. no matter which expression may sound best in formulating Christian spirituality. you should also do. • Charity/Love is the indispensable mark of a true disciple of Jesus Christ. He himself loved “to the end” (13:1). If John insists on the “one another. The call to discipleship is a call to the imitation of Christ (John 13:15). This is the significance of the post-paschal discipleship and the following of Jesus.5 • The way of Jesus is the way of love. There are.panaguiton 7 . • A Christian is one who is invited to imitate this act of great love. Summary: • The word disciple means “to walk behind. dedicating all our hearts and efforts to build the Christian way. of its members being truly his disciples. that “charity” does indeed begin at home. 13:34-35). In fact it signifies becoming a new person and a new humanity. so that as I have done for you. Therefore. F. • Following does not just walking behind the master. in this new commandment no measurable. if you have love for one another (cf. so you also should love one another8. in particular love for one another. By his suffering and death. • The disciple was always to be marked by love (John 13: 34-35). Jesus sets up the norm and measure of Christian love once and for all in this world. not of words. The God who is revealed in Jesus is the one who incarnates himself in human weakness assuming the form of a servant and walks the way of the cross (Phil 2:5-11).” The Johannine community knew from bitter experience what we all too often choose to forget. III. Dynamic openness.

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