The first thing we notice about the apostles is that they were no-one special, just ordinary people with ordinary jobs. Immediately, as soon as they were called they did not hesitate to follow Jesus although they did not have a clue who he was. They gave up everything including their home and families and were to live with very strict rules. They could take nothing with them but a stick; they could not even take food, a pack or bag, or any money. They were allowed to wear sandals but not a second coat and if they were made welcome by another family they were to stay with them until they left the district but if they did not receive hospitality they were to shake the dust off their feet as they left.
This is all to do with giving up everything to be a disciple, including possessions. It was especially hard for wealthy people as they had more to give away. The danger of wealth was that it can separate a person from God, this is because a person becomes so obsessed with riches that they have little time for God. This is not the only thing that the disciples had to leave behind, they also had to leave their selves behind, which meant putting themselves last in everything, to not care about their life, position or esteem and to have no desire for rights or privileges except that of belonging to God. The next thing the disciples had to do was to take up the cross, this meant being prepared to follow Jesus even to the point of death, the final thing they had to do was to follow Jesus. This is an invitation to go with Jesus to face suffering, death and resurrection with him.
We see in the gospels that the disciples made many mistakes and were not perfect, one mistake they made was that they argued over who was the greatest. Jesus said ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all’ (9:35), he had already explained this to the disciples earlier on in the gospel, but as Jesus had just predicted his death they were probably thinking that one of them had to take over leading the group.Another mistake they made was that when Jesus was crucified they were not prepared to admit they knew him, especially Peter who denied him three times. This shows that they were not really willing to be crucified for what they believed in and were not prepared to follow Jesus to the point of death.The worst of the apostles was Judas who completely betrayed Jesus by leading the people who were trying to capture him to him.
The disciples made other mistakes too, such as when John complained that a man who was not one of the apostles was casting out devils in Jesus’ name. He did not realise that the apostles were not the only disciples, although they had the ability to cast out demons and to anoint the sick and to be able to cure them, the other Christians who did not have the ability to do this still showed signs of discipleship. Jesus’ disciples were there to be Jesus’ companions, to preach and to cast out demons but Jesus saw all who did his work as his disciples and his family, Jesus said ‘Whoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister, my mother’ (3:31-35), this means all who followed Jesus and showed their faith in God were a disciple and part of the family of God.Other examples of Discipleship are people like John the Baptist who baptised people to prepare them for the coming of God’s kingdom. He saw himself as having no position and he saw his only role as to announce the coming of Jesus. He eventually died for Jesus as he was killed for what he believed in.The Christians being persecuted also were disciples, they had all decided to be followers of Christ and were being persecuted for it, this is a good example of people dying for their faith which was, and still is, a sign of true discipleship.
Another disciple was Saint Paul, he was another follower. He preached the gospel and agreed with many of the things, which Jesus stood for. Both Paul and Jesus agreed that Christians should face death with joy, which at this time, Paul was doing, as he knew he was about to be executed for his faith. He also agreed with Jesus a lot on the theme of Baptism, how it represented death and resurrection.The common thing that all these people have is true faith; another person who showed true faith was Bartimaeus. He showed he believed in Jesus by not giving up when people told him to. All of these people showed true discipleship by having true faith in God.
I have already mentioned how the first apostles had a calling, this calling is still evident today but it is known as a vocation. People who have a vocation must turn their backs on personal wishes and commit themselves to God. This vocation is becoming a disciple, giving up family and possessions to devote your life to God.
The mission of the modern disciple is very much the same:* To care for the sick* To feed the hungry* To fight against evil injustice and* Preaching the message of repentance through as many ways as possible.Today we also have people who can do as the disciples did, Priests cast out devils and we cure the sick through healing services and prayer, doctors and nurses also cure the sick and becoming a doctor or a nurse is another example of a vocation.Also to be a true disciple you are meant to give up possessions. It is harder today than at the time of Jesus as money has a higher role in today’s society; people also have more money than in those days so there is more to give up. It is harder to live without money today, as not many people with give you something for nothing.Not all Christians are called to bear suffering, rejection and death in their discipleship. All Christians should be prepared not to care what people think although it is hard as other people’s opinions make a big impression on us.
They should not care about there position and should be prepared to die for Christ, although they may not have to as today most people respect other people’s religions and do not persecute them for it. Not many people, particularly in this country, are killed for their faith.Jesus said that if Christians will follow him he would reward them in heaven, although today many people do not believe this and would rather have their rewards now.The disciples made the mistakes of arguing over who was the greatest, the church seem to have also made this mistake as it appears that they have ranked everyone.
From bishop to Cardinal to vicar to churchwarden, this may appear to be positions of rank and positions of greatness but they are actually positions of service.Another mistake that people are likely to make is that they are not prepared to face death. Many people will run away in the face of death and quickly change religion, who do not hear of many people who die for their faith in England although in other countries there are many.Some twentieth Century martyrs are:* St Maximiliam Kolbe – He exchanged places with a condemned Jew in a concentration camp and was starved along with his fellow inmates, before being fatally injected with Carbolic acid.* Dietrich Bonhoeffer – A minister of the confessing church of Germany who was executed by the Nazis.* Archbishop Romero – He was gunned down while at a prayer meeting.
John, one of the earlier disciples reacted to Christians in a bad way, this can also happen today as people can get too concerned with their own Church group and having nothing to do with those of another view. Being a Christian is not just about promoting your own Church and religion but also to respect other religions and to help other Churches so that we are all like a family, in order to have this family we need to show love, care and concern for other members. Although like any family there may be disputes, Jesus says, that the unifying factor is belonging to the family, which means to do the will of God.Examples of people today who show qualities of discipleship are:* Martin Luther King* Mother Theresa* Nuns* Religious Sisters* Pope* Clergy* CongregationMany of these people have devoted their whole life to God; they did everything to live their lives away from the outside world. Others died for their faith or stood up for what they believed in. Others show their faith by going to church and praying and not actually devoting their whole life to God.
In Conclusion we can see that the first disciples were much the same as today’s. They both should be able to give up everything in order to follow God, although today in some ways it is easier as we do not have to die for our religion in this country but it is also harder as we have more money than they did and money plays a much larger role in society today.’It Is Not Possible to Be a True Disciple of Jesus in the Modern World’In some ways I agree to this comment as today life is easy and so Christians feel that they do not have to give up everything to follow Jesus. Wealth is a big part of today’s world and people find it hard to give everything up. People today do not realise that giving up their possessions for God does not mean poverty, it means real life.Disciple means ‘follower’.
Christians today feel that they only need to believe in God to follow him but not everyone will agree that this is true discipleship.The way in which we are brought up also has a big effect on us, having a job as a nun or a priest is not really encouraged in schools all that much.Society today also has a big effect on discipleship; other people’s attitudes and opinions influence us now more than ever before. Other people do not expect us to choose to preach in the streets, and s Christians do not because they feel they do not need to or more likely because they are worried about what other people will say.
Today, as we own more it is harder to give up. Other aspects were easier for the earlier disciples as well, they actually had Jesus where as we are basing our religion on belief. We may have the Gospels and the Sacraments but it’s still not the real person is it.We do not have the instant ability to heal someone with a touch yes we can heal people, but it takes quite a while and a lot of work.The disciples had only one reward; riches in heaven although many people today do not want to wait until they get to heaven.Today, due to the time, Christians are not expected to die for their religion as people accept it, although if they need to they should be able to sacrifice themselves for God.Although these points make us think that it is not possible we can also argue that it is.
I have already mentioned that we do not ‘have’ Jesus, but we do have history written down for us in the form of the bible on which we can base our religion and although Jesus is not with us it does not mean that we do not have that closeness that the disciples had, we can still feel that Jesus is here with us.It is actually fairly easy to be a disciple today as there are plenty of places for religion, which is accepted and therefore we don’t have to face death and so we can carry out our belief freely without risk.We feel that because we make mistakes that this does not make us a disciple but the first disciples made mistakes as well. The important thing is to learn from these mistakes and make sure that we do not make them again.It also makes it easier today as we feel we do not have to give everything up. There are opportunities to devote your life to God in monasteries and Convents as well.
This shows us that although we are not encouraged to do this there is still the opportunity to.In Conclusion I feel that if anyone wants to be a disciple, and is committed enough then it is possible. All they need is true faith and their belief in God. If they have the will power to follow God then they will find that they can give up everything and are willing to die for their faith. It is this will power that will bring them closer to God and that will reward them greatly.