When we walk with Jesus as his disciple – we are asked to walk out into the unknown. If I asked you who are you? You might say I’m a teacher, I’m a Catholic, I’m a mother, a son, etc. When Pope Francis was asked this question in an interview he answered; ‘I am a sinner’. He further explained with reference to a famous painting in Rome. The Calling of Saint Matthew is a masterpiece by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, depicting the moment when Jesus walks into his world, Matthew and his friends are in the darkness. Jesus comes in – the light of the world. Jesus points at Matthew and calls him to follow him. We should put ourselves in the role of Matthew. You can see in the painting that Matthew holds onto his money as if to say, no not me. Pope Francis is challenging us to encounter Jesus Christ in this way, we are called to love more, to give more, to surrender more. It’s about a life-long invitation to constantly take the next step. It’s all too easy to settle with our faith, we can all fall into comfort and not greatness. But we were made for greatness.
What is the next step that the Lord is asking me to do next? Think about Our heavenly mother Mary, think of her big fiat, her yes to the Lord. Her yes had to be renewed continuously over and over in her life. She is pregnant she goes out and serves – visits Elizabeth. Not just a one time fiat, but a life-long invitation.
Jesus’ call is for a double action: leave and follow. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” he first said to Peter and Andrew in Matthew 4:19. And “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Then to James and John. And “Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
By encountering Jesus we are been changed into his likeness. So how do I get from here to there? Discipleship is about becoming more like Christ. I think this is a Catholic buzzword. So what is it? What is discipleship?
Let’s ground it in sacred scripture and the Church’s teaching.
The Catechism defines a disciple this way: “The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1816).
It comes down to one word – Imitation – we are called to imitate our Lord.
St Paul talks about this 1 Corinthians 11:1 ‘Be imitators of me as I am of Christ’. Christian life – perusing the imitation of Christ.
How can we do this?
Heart – 4 key habits to grow and deepen our life as a disciple taken from the Acts of the Apostles 2:42.
1.Prayer – daily prayer life
2. Fellowship – who is running with you, iron sharpens iron
3.Sacraments – receiving the sacraments daily – mass, confessio
4. Feed our minds with the teachings of Christ – read sacred scripture, spiritual classics
We are striving to imitate Christ. We all want to love Jesus with all our hearts. We all have our Peter moment. Peter did not come with an impressive resume. He did not stand out for being among the smartest or holiest or most gifted or talented people of his time. Nor did he hold any position of leadership among the Jews: He was not a priest. He wasn’t part of the elite ruling class. Nor was he a religious expert like the Pharisees. He was just an ordinary, uneducated fisherman working on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
And it’s clear from the Gospels that Peter was far from perfect. He does exhibit some moments of great faith. But he’s also known for making big mistakes, overestimating his abilities (Lk 22:33), misunderstanding Jesus (Mt 16:22), limiting forgiveness (Mt 18:21) and lacking in trust (Mt 14:30). Peter even denies Jesus three times and abandons him in Christ’s greatest hour of need (Mt 26:75).
Peter was an ordinary person like us—someone who had good intentions but didn’t have it all together—and yet Jesus still called him to be his disciple. And Peter’s life was transformed through this process of discipleship: He eventually became a great Christian leader, a holy saint, a courageous witness to Christ and even a martyr in Rome.
That gives us great encouragement. Jesus doesn’t call those who are already equipped and ready to be amazing, holy Christians. Rather, he equips those whom he calls. It’s the call that comes first. And if we answer the call, he will heal us of our weaknesses and equip us to live as his disciples. If Jesus can take weak, imperfect, far from holy men like Peter and transform them over time into saints, he certainly can do the same with us.
What do we do in those moments when we fall back – are we willing to give God our weakness. The key to being a disciple of Christ is giving your heart to Him. God wants to meet you down low in the valley of humility – he doesn’t want to meet you in the ideal image of yourself – but where you are right now. Come to Jesus as you are and know that you are loved. When we come as we are, we know that we are loved, forgiven and healed and ultimately transformed. Say yes to the call, God needs you and your yes. I will conclude with a piece of scripture, Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32).