What a summer it has been so far. I have been so blessed to spend my summer here with all of you at Blessed Sacrament, but it seems like it is going too fast. I have only a few weeks left until I am done here and then it’s off to my last year of seminary. There have been many learning opportunities that I have had this summer and if I could summarize all of them in one sentence I would say: I learned what true discipleship looks like.
These last couple of months have been etched in intentional discipleship. For example, we have had multiple Gospels explaining the cost of discipleship. Jesus says “take up your cross and follow me,” and, “those who love mother and father more than me are not worthy of me.” He also said in the Gospel last Sunday, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” All of these verses from the Gospels speak to us about submitting our entire lives to Christ. We have also had multiple feast days of the early Apostles; Saint Thomas, Saints Peter and Paul, and soon we will have Saint James’ feast day on July 25th. What great examples these men are for us, giving up their entire lives for Christ, even unto death.
We here at Blessed Sacrament take the role of discipleship seriously, or as Fr. Jirak would say “take it to the next level.” It is not just a way of life that leads to heaven but the only way of life that leads to heaven. It is an awesome sight and witness when so many people are striving to be disciples of Christ. Discipleship doesn’t only mean our own personal relationship with God, but leading others toward their personal relationship with God. Evangelization is key to being an intentional disciple and this is a predominant role of the laity.
I have been leading a book study on the book Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddell. Sherry speaks of the five thresholds of conversion. The first threshold is trust. Building trust between the person and yourself is key to helping them begin a journey to the truth of Christ. Without some kind of bridge of trust or a positive experience of a Christian believer, they will not be able to move closer to Christ. In our group we mentioned some ways this could happen: inviting them to a parish event (with food because people flock to food!), asking them out to lunch, or just sitting down and speaking with them about life, not necessarily starting with the truths of the faith. The curiosity will come later after they have developed a trusting friendship.
I hope and pray that all of us are encouraged to be intentional disciples because we all have this calling. Let us use the gifts that God has given us to serve Him and others!
Deacon Jim Schibi