What is a disciple?

Many of us say that we are disciples of Jesus; but do we really know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus?

Surely we would answer yes. That we are baptized, that we go to the church on Sundays, that we participate in the liturgical celebrations, that we are members of some ministries of our parishes, etc. However, are all these things we do enough to show that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus?

The Lord in the Gospel tells us: “Not all those who say to me: ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father” (Matthew 7:21). This means that the Lord is asking us for something more, because not only participating in the different activities of the parish is enough to enter the Kingdom of God. The activities are of course important, but we need to do something else. If we want to be really disciples of the Lord, we need to begin to listen to Him as Mary, the sister of Lazarus, did when listening attentively at his feet (Luke 10:38-42). It is important to listen to the Lord, and that is the first attitude of discipleship. A disciple always listens to his teacher, learns from his words and puts into practice what he has learned. If we go to the church and listen to the word of God, we will be able to do whatever God asks of us.

And to do so, it is also necessary to have an attitude of prayer, because in prayer we listen to God and express everything we are. We speak, and He speaks to us. Therefore, as the model of a perfect prayer, the Master has given us Our Father (see Luke 11:1-13). Many times we complain that we do not know how to pray or do not have time to pray, and we forget how important this prayer is for the life of every believer. Let us pray the Our Father. Let us pray to God, and we will see how God gives us the necessary strength to be true disciples of God. Discipleship then also consists of having that intimate relationship with God that is given through prayer.

And if we pray, if we speak and listen to God, then we will be able to do His holy will. We will be able to love Him with all our strength, with all our soul, with all our being and our neighbor as ourselves (see Matthew 22:37-40). To be a true disciple of Christ means to understand the true dimension of love, not only love for God, but also for our brothers and sisters. This love must be given by us to all people, regardless of social status, nationality, race, religion or age, and must be given at all times.

This love is unconditional, so it should not be selfish but helpful, as Paul reminds us in his first letter to the Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 13). For this reason, the Lord Jesus says: “Avoid all kinds of greed, because the life of man does not depend on the abundance of the goods he possesses” (Luke 12:15). We must think of the other and never of what is of benefit to us. The goods are not bad but the Lord invites us to share them with others. Sharing is another characteristic of the disciple of Christ. It does not make sense to accumulate earthly riches if we are not going to share them with anyone. This is why the Lord also tells us: “Do not be afraid, my little flock, because your Father has seen fit to give you the Kingdom, sell your goods and give alms, get some bags that are not destroyed and accumulate in heaven a treasure that does not end, where the thief does not come, nor the moth eats, because where His treasure is, there will be His heart” (Luke 12: 32-34). Therefore, if we help others we are serving according to the heart of Christ and, therefore, we are doing the will of the Father.

If we want to be true disciples of Jesus and do God’s will, we need to understand the true meaning of love. To do that, we need to listen carefully to the words of Jesus, talk to Him and put each of His teachings into practice.

Father Ramírez Velásquez is parochial vicar in the Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community in Penn Yan.

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