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 (CCC 1816).
What is a Disciple?
The word disciple derives from the Greek term 'mathētēs' to mean 'pupil' or 'student.' To be a disciple is to, therefore, dedicate your life to be an apprentice for the ultimate master, Jesus Christ. It is through this apprenticeship that one becomes a friend and follower of the Lord.
To be an intentional disciple is to live out our identity in Christ Jesus. It is through imitating Christ, the perfect model of humanity, that we can be confident in who God created us to be and fulfil the unique purpose God has for our lives.
Responding to your Calling
The call to discipleship is a universal call. It is an open invitation to anyone willing to respond to Christ's love for them and conform their lives to his. This is different to a vocational calling. Whereas everyone is called to be a disciple, not everyone is called to the vocation of marriage. God calls some individuals to consecrated single life and other individuals to the religious life, whether that be to the priesthood or to a community for religious sisters.
To discern your calling from God to the priesthood, please contact the Diocesan Vocation Director, Fr Paul Kyne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Living out your Calling as a Disciple
The desire to evangelise is one way that disciples live out their calling. By fulfilling the Great Commission to 'make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you', disciples intentionally make other disciples (Mt 28:19-20).
Disciples desire to share the gift of the Gospel with others. In addition to bearing witness to Christ and sharing their personal testimony of the way Jesus has transformed their lives, disciples will pray for renewal and volunteer to further the new evangelisation mission.
Another way that disciples live out their calling is through serving others with acts of love, mercy and healing. As stewards, disciples pour themselves out to bless, benefit and serve others without counting the cost. The Blessed Virgin Mary is a perfect example of this. As the first disciple, our Blessed Mother responded to God's calling with total faith and submitted her entire life to the service of God, permitting the Word to become flesh. In the same way, disciples are called to surrender their lives to the Lord and lay their lives down for others.
The 12 Marks of a Disciple
- Disciples are called - Jesus invited the fishermen to leave their nets and follow him. God always initiates the relationship and pursues us first, for he 'came to seek out and to save the lost.' (Lk 19:10).
- Disciples accept Jesus' call - The choice to be a disciple is an intentional one, which one must make in response to God's love for us.
- Disciples trust God - Just as Peter and Andrew 'left their nets and followed him', discipleship often means leaving our past behind and following Jesus with faith. (Mt 4:20).
- Disciples love others - Jesus said that 'by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.' (Jn 13:35)
- Disciples bear spiritual fruit. The fruit in our lives proves that we are disciples of Christ, as we continue to abide in him, the true Vine.
- Disciples obey their master - Jesus said that we are his friends if we do what he has commanded (Jn 15:14). Obedience deepens our intimacy with the Lord.
- Disciples are docile - This means that disciples of the Lord are teachable. Whatever they learn from Jesus, they try to implement in their own lives.
- Disciples spend alone time with Jesus - The disciples were Jesus' closest friends. They shared some of their most intimate moments with him. As disciples, we are called to invest in our relationship with the Lord, by spending quality time with him in prayer and Eucharistic Adoration.
- Disciples carry their cross - Jesus said 'If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.' (Lk 9:23) Suffering is part of the cost of discipleship.
- Disciples serve others - When feeding the five thousand, the disciples volunteered to distribute the food. In the same way, disciples are called to serve others through the seven corporal acts of mercy.
- Disciples are committed - Discipleship requires that no one looks back when following Jesus. Disciples set their eyes on the treasures of heaven and keep an eternal perspective.
- Disciples evangelise - Disciples share the gift of the Gospel and make other disciples. The joy of knowing Jesus overflows in their lives that they feel compelled to share the Good News of what Jesus has done for them with others.
If you would like to find out how you can participate in the New Evangelisation in Southwark, click here.