Christian discipleship is a concept that was born when Jesus Christ hand selected his first twelve followers. A disciple, by definition, is a convinced believer of a school or individual. In the case of Jesus, the disciples where those who followed him while he was here on Earth, as well as those who continue to follow him and his teachings today in the modern world. The meaning of discipleship today is very much the same as it was in the times of Jesus. It is all about battling against injustice, sickness and homelessness. A disciple today is expected to follow Jesus’ example.”If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget self, carry his cross and follow me”Following this path takes a great amount of courage and self-discipline. In today’s society, this can be very hard. The self-sacrifice involved in discipleship in the modern world could be considered to be greater than that of biblical times. In Jesus’ day, the following was only beginning to grow, but seemed to do so even when the road was hard. However, in today’s world, becoming less important to Christians, with many simply too involved in their own pursuits of self-interest to consider helping others who may be in difficulty. Today’s Christians not only have to deal with disbelief, but also with indifference and ridicule.There are five ways in which discipleship might affect the lives of Christians today. They are Vocation, Service, Faith, Prayer and worship. Vocation is the main way.Vocation comes from the Latin word ‘voca’ meaning an inclination, as if in response to a summons, to undertake a certain kind of work, especially a religious career; a calling. We use the word ‘vocation’ to describe a call from God to follow his Son in the way of life he shows us in the gospels. For some people, this call is to devote their entire lives to serving God in such a drastic way as to become a member of a religious order, whereas for others, it can have a more personal meaning. In both cases however, discipleship means making Jesus’ way of live the model and pattern of their own lives. We are called to discipleship to trace our lives in the life of Jesus, in whichever way we choose to interoperate this.However, we often miss this essential point in our vocation to Christian discipleship. We are often like the disciples described in today’s gospel account: missing the point of Jesus’ teaching. For instance, while Jesus was telling them about his mission- “the son of man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise” instead of listening and understanding the meaning of this statement, they were arguing among themselves about who was the greatest disciple. They may have missed the point of Jesus’ teaching, but we must not be too hard in our judgement, as we often do the same.It is not easy to follow Jesus and to be his disciples. If he had to endure suffering and death, then so must we. If he had to be the servant of all, then so must be too. Indeed, he tells us quite clearly today: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all, and the servant of all.” Like the disciples, we do not always understand, and are often afraid to question Jesus’ teachings. Hence, we need to help one another discover vocations in which more will be made of us, enabling us to find fulfillment, even as we also recognize the significant sacrifice involved in faithful Christian discipleship. In this way, we seek to discern and live out vocations that enable people to match their gifts and talents with fidelity to the God of Jesus Christ and particular communities of people.A vocation is God’s unique invitation, addressed to individual persons in which a free response is expected. This response is not a single act, but a life-long process, a journey of faith. As baptised Christians, each of us is called to assist others in discovering their vocation, like we have been helped to discover our own. Each of us is called to help make others aware of their personal richness, talents and human value, opening their eyes to the variety of lifestyles and then ministries within the Church.The life of prayer is central to our vocation; in fact common to the life of every disciple of Jesus, regardless of his or her individual vocation, is the necessity of prayer and witness. Prayer is a way in which we make our needs known to God. Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic Letter states “this training in holiness calls for a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer…prayer develops that conversation with Christ which makes us his intimate friends…this reciprocity is the very substance and soul of the Christian life…”Prayer is essential to the life of the disciple. In Marks Gospel, Jesus exorcises a boy with an unclean spirit, whom his disciples could not. Jesus tells his disciples that this type of unclean spirit only comes out with prayer. The four evangelists show a great many examples of Jesus as prayer. The Gospel accounts portray Jesus’ teaching about prayer and Jesus at prayer. Both the theory and the example show us how to orient ourselves to participate in Christ’s life, and in so doing, be in constant communication with God.In order to live out our discipleship, we must also show faith towards God. Faith is the most important aspect of believing in Jesus and God. It is seen as an act of trust by which a person relies not on himself, but on Jesus. We must be faithful and pray for guidance in decisions, and seek to deepen our relationship with God. People like priests and missionaries spend their lives teaching others about God, and spreading their own faith throughout communities to reach those who have not been taught about Him before. In Mark’s Gospel, we read about how faith is important in order to carry out many of Jesus’ miracles. Faith was important for these miracles, as it showed a clear trust in Jesus and his ability to perform such a task. It also displayed a positive attitude on behalf of the person. A request to be healed shows a determination to get better. There are two main types of faith in Mark’s Gospel. The first is an active faith, as in a belief that something needs to be done by Jesus, which shows action. For instance, in the parable of the paralysed man, his friends brought his to Jesus to be cured. The second faith is a praying faith. This is when someone asks or requests to be healed. It shows that the person believes that they must only ask to be cured. This happened in the story of the leper, who asked Jesus to cure him.Another key text showing faith is ‘The Woman With the Haemorrhage’. The story tells how Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd when a woman, who had been bleeding for twelve years, approached him, hoping to be cured. ‘She came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed” Immediately, her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering…’ ‘…Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith ahs healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’ In this story, it was the woman’s faith in Jesus to perform his miracles that cured her.Worship is another important factor in Christian vocation. In Christianity, it is an act of love for God. We must spend time with God in the same way that we spend time with the people who we love. It is possible to worship God in private, or as a group in Church. Disciples today can put into practice the greatest commandment, loving the lord with all your heart, will all your soul with your entire mind and with all your strength, and the second part, being ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself’. A true Christian disciple would take the form of regularly attending church, participating in the sacraments- reconciliation for example, and caring for others at all times. Many people do this today, by caring for those who are sick or unwell, or by helping those less well off than themselves. For example, organisations like CAFOD and Trocraire, who spend their time raising money for the third world. Ordinary people like ourselves can do this too in everyday life, whether it be giving money to charity, or doing volunteer work for local centres. In my own life, I had the opportunity to do this in the Special Olympics, by doing volunteer work with disabled children. Many people today live out their discipleship in their careers. Hospital staff for instance, spend their lives caring for the sick, as do workers of care homes, or nursing homes.Today, discipleship means different things to different people. There are many ways that people choose to live out their vocation, each of them a personal decision made by that person. Although we may all be baptised in the same way, we can each interoperate our call in different ways. There are also contradictions between different Churches towards the meaning of discipleship, and how their followers should live. For example, some Churches differ on the standings of celibacy in priesthood, and ordination for women. This can affect how people choose to live out their vocation.There are many ways in which people choose to live out their discipleship, and many ways in which it can be interoperated. It does not only refer to priests, monks and nuns who have given up their lives to serve God, but also to those who have not taken vows of poverty, chastity or obedience. These people are called ‘lay people’, which describes the status of most of the Church. Parenthood is seen by many as a call to discipleship, as it involves great sacrifice and many hardships. In order to bring up children, most people will encounter financial difficulties, as well as emotional hardship, and some parents may even give up their career to look after their child. Our parents bring us up to be responsible adults in the future, by teaching us moral standards and Christian beliefs. Teachers also do this, by giving up their lives to teach children. Hospital staff, care home and nursing home workers also live out their vocations, by giving their life to those who are in need of help.The most obvious way to respond to our call to discipleship is to help those who are in need of assistance, like the sick and the poor. Many people use their lives to make a difference in this world, to help those most in need of their help. There are many examples of this worldwide and closer to home. Children’s organisations like Childline, and Samaritans; suicide help-lines; bullying help-lines; lesbian and gay switchboards; charities working with families affected by drug and alcohol abuse; the list is endless. Each of these charities devote their time to helping those in need of help, whether it be severe need for action, or just a friendly voice to talk to, they all spend their lives trying to improve the lives of others.Outside of organisations, there is also a way that we can help those in need. In my own life, I have had countless opportunities to help others. After severe natural disasters like the 2005 tsunami, and the hurricane in New Orleans, I took part in fund raisers inside and outside of school, in order to raise money for those badly affected by the disasters. We also have infinite chances everyday to help the poor and the homeless by giving money or possessions to charity organisations like Oxfam.However, for some people, it is a lot more difficult to live out their vocation, due to discrimination. As Christians, we believe that everybody has a call towards discipleship, and that we are all equal in God’s eyes, and yet many of us today still have an inbred prejudice towards people of a different race, sex or sexual preference. With this in mind, it is clear to see why some people would suffer grave injustice when attempting to carry out their discipleship. For instance, Father Augustine Tolton, was born a slave, but fought discrimination his entire life to become the first full blooded Negro Catholic priest in the United States.After a life of slavery for a white family, Tolton and his family fled to a nearby town where they would be free. After being taken out of his first school, due to racial discrimination, he was admitted into a local priests own school along with his siblings. He graduated with distinction and was confirmed, expressing a desire to become a priest. But his efforts to enter a seminary were thwarted by the same issue of prejudice. He was even denied entry into a seminary whose white priests were being trained to serve the American Negro. However, after studying at another seminary, Father Augustine Tolton was ordained a Catholic priest in 1886. This example shows how some people have had to suffer hardships and injustice, just like the first disciple, in order to live out their discipleship.There is also a great deal of prejudice concerning sexual orientation, in that many people who are homosexual, or bisexual are stopped from entering the priesthood because it is seen as a ‘sin’ to the church. One priest, Father Burns Seeley was quoted saying “…they see members of their own gender as mutually attractive in a sexual sense. They do not see females as such. In other words, they do not see or experience objective reality. Since this is so, it follows that homosexual priests possess a serious handicap which makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to serve well as our Lord’s faithful ordained ministers.” Because of this, many people are unable to live out their Christian vocation, and indeed, have difficulty in everyday life, due to ignorance and discrimination.There is also the issue of women in the Christian Church. It is difficult for women in the Christian Church to live out their discipleship, as in the Church’s eyes, women are seen as being inferior to men. Many would question why this is, as we are taught as Christians that we are all equal in God’s eyes, and are baptised in the same way to have the same teachings from our religion. There seems to be no logical reason for this, and indeed no biblical reasons, as it is argued that if God trusted a woman to bear his own son, and to raise Jesus alone, it would be assumed that a woman would be able to carry out the duties involved in priesthood. This of course means that women in the Christian Church cannot live out their discipleship in the way they feel they have been called to do.Many Christians today also fail to live out their discipleship due to personal reasons. Many misunderstand what their vocation is and make mistakes in life in order to find out later what they want to do. This is the case for many priests who leave the priesthood to lead different careers in somewhat unlikely professions. There are also a great deal of people who leave their jobs, whatever they may be, to live another life, after realising that it was their calling. For example, people who have left their well paying careers to work with a charity organisation or to become a missionary worker, or simply to change jobs, to become a teacher. They may find half way through their life that they have made a mistake, and decide to try out new ways of life in order to find their true calling.Many Christians are depicted in the ‘Parable of the Sower’ as the ‘seed which fell among the thorns’. “That which fell among the thorns are those who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares, riches and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” These are Christians who are distracted by the modern world ad forget about God and their vocation. Many do not make time, and fail to pray, serve or worship God.Discipleship is different for us today as it was for the first disciples, but there are still a lot of similarities. All followers of Jesus are asked to show commitment towards him and his teachings. Both the apostles and Christians today have a vocation, and time to live out their discipleship. Many believe that the first disciples faced more difficulties as they were persecuted against, but it could also be argued that for them it was easier to have faith, as they witnessed Jesus and his miracles, whereas today Christians must have blind faith to believe in what they hear and read.It is easy to see how discipleship has changed since the time of Jesus, as many Christians today are not as committed toward their vocation as the first disciples, who gave up all they had. Today, it seems that modern Christians are prepared to put money and possessions before God.
Christian discipleship Paper
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