To Follow or Not to Follow
Our Christian faith is not all about believing what we read or hear about God. It is also about proclaiming and practicing what we believe about God and its implications in our lives. Preaching and practice constitute discipleship or apostleship. As Jesus encounters potential disciples in our Gospel today, he explains the demands of discipleship. Disciples should be ready to be without home or security. Discipleship takes precedence over family relationships. The relationship with Jesus is permanent and unconditional.
Christian discipleship is about following the will of God in our lives. It is living the faith which the Lord has gifted us with. It is not merely believing what we hear or read in Scriptures. It is not merely preaching or teaching what we believe and understand in our faith. It is putting into practice what we believe.
By virtue of our baptism, we are all mandated to proclaim the Good News. Such proclamation involves a certain conviction or faith that inspires or empowers the process. Such proclamation becomes more powerfully credible when the words are matched with our life and actions. There is a certain attractiveness in a message that is powered by an example of a life that can be imitated.
To approach Christ with our head is scholarship. To approach him with our heart as well as with our head is discipleship. Scholarship cannot guarantee discipleship. Understanding the Beatitudes is quite different from actually living them in our daily life. But scholarship can enhance discipleship. Receiving the sacraments after some reasonable preparation through a series of meetings makes a world of difference from receiving them without any process of preparation. Of course, receiving the sacraments or being “sacramentalized” is not always a guarantee of true Christian discipleship which involves a personal relationship with our personal God.
Our coming to worship, for example, is not only about learning the values by which we live. It is about encountering God in the Eucharist and in the Word in the context of our daily life. We all come from different origins and orientations to offer the totality of our experiences in one common sacrifice of praise. We come together to celebrate our unity in diversity.