Discipleship with Jesus is essential
All disciples share one thing in common: Life before following Jesus Christ, and life after committing one’s self to the Lord. Although this is especially true for those who come to the faith as adults, you may have heard young adults in their twenties and thirties speak of their “pre” and “post” conversion stages, or older Catholics refer to themselves after time away as “I’m a revert.”
Truth be told, not every aspect of our life changes when we choose to follow Jesus Christ. But the major decisions, the choices we make or our commitment to do good and avoid evil, all shift. Even our daily patterns of life change. Every Christian struggles with sin, bad habits, and the effects of original sin. But our relationship with Christ asks us to deal with more than life’s standard challenges. Every committed Christian must deny one’s self, take up the cross, and follow our Lord each day.
Christ laid down his life for us. In following Him, we are asked to lay down our lives to love God and our neighbor. Jesus spent nearly three years with his apostles, patiently guiding and forming them to be those leaders who would shepherd his Church as the first bishops. Infused with the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the apostles took up their crosses (all but St. John would be martyred) and went out to proclaim the Good News.
In this current world of pandemic, the Christian life can still be lived, even when we cannot attend Mass on a weekly basis. So many of our fellow Catholics live in remote mission territories around the world. Without regular opportunities for Mass and the sacraments, they still strive for holiness. Whether in the Amazon today or Japan in the 1600s, Christian families keep the faith through the help of catechists and a daily commitment to the Rosary, scripture, and prayerful charity. While our situation is not as dire, we can learn from those who remain committed to Jesus Christ.
As I write this column, the Bishops of the Northwest are discussing ways we can still provide for the spiritual needs of our people. And here in the three Catholic dioceses that comprise the state of Washington, I have been asked to join leaders of other faith traditions to show the governor’s office that the practice of our one’s faith is truly essential. As Catholics, we are a people who need regular participation in the sacraments and to join with others in prayer and worship.
In the meantime, I offer a few points of reflection for your daily prayer: Who are your role models in faith? Do you ask them for guidance? Do you spend the time to help others in their spiritual life and in their life in general? These uncertain times give us the opportunity to take stock of how we pursue our lives as disciples and how help others to follow our Lord.
While we eagerly await a return to the normal practice of our faith, I pray that we would not miss this opportunity to grow in solidarity with our fellow Catholics in remote mission territories. Please pray for a new generation of generous young men and women who will respond to the Lord’s call to priesthood and consecrated life. The Church needs you! Please continue to pray as a family and don’t be afraid to humbly show others why discipleship with Jesus Christ is so essential, perhaps now more than ever.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
St. Jean Gabriel Perboyre, CM, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!