Discipleship and Growth
Today, September 4th, 2020: Jesus’ Lesson in Discipleship #2020. Discipleship involves growth and change! Day by day, come what may…to see more clearly, to love more dearly, to follow Jesus more nearly.
Luke’s Gospel selection presents Jesus meeting with a group of Scribes and Pharisees as they raised questions about fasting and prayer, comparing their disciples and those of John the Baptist with Jesus’ disciples whom they observed as “lax”; Jesus’ disciples were even eating and drinking! Jesus challenges their thinking, using a variety of down-to-earth parables about patching clothes, as well as the storage and consumption of wine.
Many Jewish leaders had developed a legalistic formalism towards the practice of their faith. It was more important to abide by minute fasting regulations than, for example, to help a neighbor in need. Jesus tried to change that perception – and met opposition! Jesus demonstrated that love is the essence of religion and that the “regulations” were simply to serve as concrete helps, not absolutes. What Jesus asked was really more demanding; no doubt it is easier to be precise about fasting than to genuinely love God and neighbor with ones’ whole being.
As 21st Century disciples in this time of serious health and social pandemics, we are challenged to continue growing and loving in new ways. Our involvements with others, our celebration of the Eucharist and other Sacraments, the challenge of “zooming” and social distancing and face masks: life is radically different for us! We may long for the “good old days”, but life today presents us with “new wine” needing “new wineskins” and suitable patches for the fabric of life today. We are called to grow…building upon the wisdom and experience of one another and our history as the People of God. Together, with Jesus, we can!
The coming days and weeks present us with a variety of celebrations and challenges. Labor Day on September 7th, our Blessed Mother’s Birthday on September 8th, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th, our fellow Passionist St. Vincent Strambi on September 24th, the Archangels on September 29th, the month-long days of Prayer for the Care of Creation: May we grow in gratitude for the gift of our faith and the blessings of life and one another, and an openness to God’s loving care for us in all of life.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the Vocation Director for Holy Cross Province. He lives at St. Vincent Strambi Community in Chicago, Illinois.