From the Pastor – January 14, 2024

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” (John 1:35)

One of the aspects of the Gospel reading for today is that of discipleship. I wrote about the word in an earlier edition of the bulletin when I distinguished “disciple,” meaning “student” or “follower” from the word “apostle,” meaning “messenger.” All Christians are called to be disciples, while some are specifically sent out by the Church to be messengers. The earliest Christians all began as disciples, and some were chosen to be apostles.

In the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” the word disciple is used over and over. Here is a great definition of the role of disciples in the Church: “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.”

In July 5, 2006, in his General Audience Pope Benedict XVI described what it means to be a disciple of Christ “The Lord wishes to make each one of us a disciple who lives in personal friendship with him. To do this, it is not enough to follow and listen to him exteriorly; it is also necessary to live with him and as him. This is only possible in the context of a relationship of great familiarity, penetrated by the warmth of total trust.”

During the early stages of our life – and sometimes even in the later stages – we find ourselves searching, like the two followers of John the Baptist. At some stage we might realize that there is something about Jesus in His Word and in the Eucharist that causes us to want to follow Him. But that following can be at a distance. It can be limited to Sunday Mass or trying to follow the commandments.

But Jesus calls us to follow him more closely. He wants to enter into a personal relationship with us. Sometimes that is difficult, but once we begin that personal relationship, we can enter into the final stage of discipleship, that of spreading the good news about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Once we have found Jesus, each of us has a Christian duty to grow closer to Him and to tell others about Him. We begin with our family and friends, but we might extend out to coworkers, fellow parishioners who are separated from the Church or even those who don’t even know anything about Jesus Christ. It might sound difficult, but it’s exactly the opposite. Because we become true disciples, Jesus gives us something we never could have expected. He fills us with joy. The great Apostle St John speaks about that in his Second Letter: “Although I have much to write to you, I do not intend to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and to speak face to face so that our joy may be complete.”

(Very Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty