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Continuing discipleship

Continuing discipleship

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
By Fr. Roy Cimagala

We, of course, are meant to be ‘another Christ.’ That is our radical identity, since we have been created in God’s image and likeness. And since Christ as the Son of God is that perfect image God has of himself, we can say that we are patterned after him, and as Son of God who became man, Christ is the savior of our damaged humanity.

We have to understand though that for us to be truly ‘another Christ’ would require the supernatural power of God. We cannot achieve that status by our powers alone, although we have to put ourselves in the proper condition to be elevated to that dignity. It is Christ who will do it for us, but, of course, with our free cooperation.

This is where the duty for us to be Christ’s disciples comes in. To be ‘another Christ’ we need to constantly look for him, find him, follow him, love him and do the things he wants us to do. That, in a nutshell, is what Christian discipleship is all about. We have to find ways of how we can turn this theoretical definition of Christian discipleship into a living reality, spanning our whole life.

We are reminded of this truth of faith about ourselves in that gospel episode where John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to see Christ and ask him if Christ was really the one they were expecting or whether they should still look for another one. (Lk 7,18-23) Let’s hope that the need for us to be Christ’s disciples is sharply and abidingly felt by us.

At the moment we can examine ourselves if we have the proper understanding of the ultimate purpose of our life, the ultimate status and dignity that is meant for us, that is, we are supposed to be ‘alter Christus.’ We also need to ask ourselves whether we realize that we need to be a true disciple of Christ to put ourselves to become ‘alter Christus’ ourselves, as God wants us to be.

To be a true disciple of Christ requires us first of all to look for him and find him. Encountering Christ should not be a problem, since Christ is always with us. It’s rather us who have to learn to acknowledge his presence and to start dealing with him. We should have the same interest in Christ as those who first met Christ had.

From the gospel of St. Matthew (8,18-22), we have this interesting episode of a scribe who approached Christ and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” He must have felt such a serious admiration for Christ that he had to say this intention and his willingness to follow Christ wherever he would go.

To which Christ responded by telling him what to expect. “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” In other words, to be Christ’s disciple is no joke. It will entail extreme difficulties and inconveniences.

We can get an idea of the kind of difficulties we can expect as a disciple of Christ when someone told him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But Christ answered him saying, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” This can only mean that we have to be willing to leave everything behind, even those who are dear to us, just to follow Christ.

We have to understand then that to be a true disciple of Christ we have to learn how to be properly detached from everything in our life.