“He appointed twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach.” Mark 3:14
Discipleship is simply and lovingly described by Jesus as “being with Him” and to “proclaim” the Gospel. The first requirement is to be with Jesus. I think it is a terrible problem if we try to do and proclaim the Gospel without a meaningful friendship with Jesus.
A relationship with Christ means a vigorous personal encounter with Him. This deep friendship makes our faith a joyous loving experience! The traditional name for this experience with the Lord is strongly attested to in Scripture and is called prayer. The beautiful and most common word for prayer in the original Greek SS is pros-eu-cho-mai which means wishing of God for me and I for Him. All prayer begins with God’s deep desire for me and in return my desire for Him. The noun and verb for pros-eu-cho-mai is used 129 times in SS. Besides, there are many other words for prayer in OT and NT!
Today we celebrate the feast of St Francis de Sales who greatly encouraged all to prayer. Prayer means much more than asking God for things. For him, it was a heartfelt meeting with Jesus which he called meditation. One of his famous quotes: “Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed. In prayer, more is accomplished by listening than by talking. Let us leave to God the decisions as to what shall be said.” St John Chrysostom 1,600 years ago gave us the advice of a lifetime, “There is nothing more worthwhile than to pray to God and to converse with him, for prayer unites us with God as his companions.”
As for preaching, this too is very important or discipleship. It is much more than being a social worker as important as that is. We are wise to remember there is no worse poverty than not to have Jesus! The most important thing that every human being needs in life is Jesus! It is a disaster not to have Him in our lives. Each of us needs to evangelize but according to our particular vocations. If we truly love Jesus and His Church we will find our opportunities. St John Chrysostom made this observation: “Hard indeed must be the heart of one who is not concerned about the salvation of another”!
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.