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This makes me think… Is my identity that of an intentional disciple of Jesus?

Thanks to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for this video of what discipleship can look like in our lives…

This makes me think… about prayer as first action…

“[P]rayer is in many ways the criterion of Christian life. Prayer requires that we stand in God’s presence… proclaiming to ourselves and to others that without God we can do nothing. This is difficult in a climate where the predominate counsel is “Do your best and God will do the rest.” When life is divided into “our best” and “God’s rest,” we have turned to prayer as a last resort to be used only when all our own resources are depleted. Then even the Lord has become the victim of our impatience. Discipleship does not mean to use God when we no longer function ourselves. On the contrary, it means to recognize that we can do nothing at all, but that God can do everything through us. As disciples, we find not some but all of our strength, hope, courage, and confidence in God. Therefore, prayer must be our first concern.”

-Henri Nouwen-
Seeds of Hope

Ascension … some art to help bring us into the story…

Ascension … some art to help bring us into the story…

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.

And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.  

Mark 16: 15-20

Dosso_Dossi_022
Attributed to Dosso Dossi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Can you imagine yourself in the crowd watching Jesus ascend?

Can you hear his words upon exiting?

Are you moved enough to preach about his message?

This makes me think… and makes me think again, deeply…

The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past. It is no longer easy to be a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an authentic witness to the truths of the Gospel. A price is demanded and must be paid. There are costs of discipleship—heavy costs, costs that are burdensome and painful to bear.

Of course, one can still safely identify oneself as a “Catholic,” and even be seen going to mass. That is because the guardians of those norms of cultural orthodoxy that we have come to call “political correctness” do not assume that identifying as “Catholic” or going to mass necessarily means that one actually believes what the Church teaches on issues such as marriage and sexual morality and the sanctity of human life. 

And if one in fact does not believe what the Church teaches, or, for now at least, even if one does believe those teachings but is prepared to be completely silent about them, one is safe—one can still be a comfortable Catholic. In other words, a tame Catholic, a Catholic who is ashamed of the Gospel—or who is willing to act publicly as if he or she were ashamed—is still socially acceptable. But a Catholic who makes it clear that he or she is not ashamed is in for a rough go—he or she must be prepared to take risks and make sacrifices. “If,” Jesus said, “anyone wants to be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.” We American Catholics, having become comfortable, had forgotten, or ignored, that timeless Gospel truth. There will be no ignoring it now.

The question each of us today must face is this: Am I ashamed of the Gospel? And that question opens others: Am I prepared to pay the price that will be demanded if I refuse to be ashamed, if, in other words, I am prepared to give public witness to the massively politically incorrect truths of the Gospel, truths that the mandarins of an elite culture shaped by the dogmas of expressive individualism and me- generation liberalism do not wish to hear spoken? Or, put more simply, am I willing, or am I, in the end, unwilling, to take up my cross and follow Christ?

Faith and friendship and evangelization: Who has invited you “come, and see”?

From Morning Prayer:

“The Lord’s friendship is for those who revere him; to them he reveals his covenant.” – Psalm 25:14

I’m contemplating the sheer graces of God’s friendship this morning as I chew on this little morsel from the psalms I found in the Magnificat this morning. Often the call to be a saint starts with the call to be a friend of God. The saints truly are friends of God, and that should be our aspiration, as Christians.

I love today’s Gospel too.

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

The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher),
“where are you staying?” 
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying,
and they stayed with him that day. (See John 1:35-39.)

 Jesus says: “Come, and you will see” to the two who inquire after him.

A simple friendly invitation initiates a life-changing friendship with Jesus. What a model for evangelization! I know I was brought to Jesus through the holy influence of people who extended their friendship to me. And I’m thanking God for them today.

Who has invited you to walk alongside Jesus, to “come, and see”? And who will you invite?