This week’s discussion questions:
In your own faith:
- Can you recall a “before” and “after” time in your life, when you became a true disciple of Jesus Christ?
- Have you ever witnessed that change in someone else?
In your parish:
- What success stories can you share?
- In what ministries of your parish is “discipleship thinking” the norm?
- In what areas is Christian discipleship not yet the standard for ministry?
(Posting the questions is not a guarantee that I’ll discuss all of them – but bring them up in the combox if you want, and we can have a conversation.)
I’m still working on becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ – I’m heading in that direction, and I feel on occasion that I’ve crossed that threshold. But then there are moments where I’m kicking myself, thinking ‘what the heck are you doing? Why aren’t you doing anything??’ Sure, I pray and attend Mass, study the faith, and do the things that many typical Catholics do – but as I discovered last week, I have a ways to go before becoming a normal Catholic. And a normal Catholic is called to be a disciple.
It comes down to making that decision – and then sticking to it. I know what I ought to do, and yet I hold back, as if what I’ll give up in return for discipleship is somehow greater than what I will receive. It’s a stupid thought, I know, but then again, foolishness ain’t beyond any of us. And I can be the most foolish of all. I’m not so much looking backwards with my hand upon the plow – it’s deciding whether or not to step into the field.
If procrastination were a charism, I’d be golden. Unfortunately, it’s an impediment to fulfillment, to living out the vocation that God had in store for me since before the dawn of time itself. And maybe that explains some of the hesitation – the sheer awesomeness of the notion that God has always been aware of me, and loved me into existence with a specific plan in mind for me. It’s mind-boggling. There’s that niggling, silly, hubristic thought – what if I screw it all up??
And yet…I would end up like the servant who buried his talents. We know what happened to him. And that’s kinda mind-boggling too.
And so, analysis paralysis sets in, and for all intents and purposes, I get nowhere.
Portions of Chapter Three, in which Sherry describes a Michigan parish I’m familiar with (and know several of the parishioners) where intentional discipleship is practically blowing the doors off the church, have resonated with me. I compare that with my parish, and the difference is striking. My parish is roughly three times larger, has a school and a perpetual adoration chapel, and has had zero priestly ordinations for many years, until recently. Now, I’m not looking in the mirror and saying “You dummy! Look what you’ve done!”; nor am I accusing anybody of anything. I can only speak for myself, and as I mentioned in last week’s discussion – we’re called to be disciples for other people. Sad to say, I’ve been slacking.
I need to face my persistent procrastination, and recognize that the only thing holding me back from becoming a true disciple is…myself. I have to stop waiting until everything’s perfect – that time will never come. There won’t be any fruits of discipleship if the charisms God has given me aren’t cultivated.
But before any of that can happen – before I can answer “What is God calling me to do?” – I have to decide. The plow is beckoning, to break up the hard soil and clear away the stones. Am I ready to step onto the field and grasp the handle, and furrow the fields so that fruit might flourish according to God’s design?
Perhaps this is my “before” and “after” moment.
But I’ll think about it tomorrow…
(that’s a joke, people!!)