“No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.”
These words from Jesus make the connection to the first reading from St. Paul and they emphasize an idea that I am very unwilling to embrace, but it’s so so important.
Being a disciple is simple. To be a disciple simply means to learn from or follow. It’s easy to be a casual disciple, taking time to learn whatever is interesting, convenient, or easy. But Jesus says here that disciples but train. What an interesting word! We don’t think of scholars as training when they do their research. We don’t think of PhD students as training when they prepare to defend their dissertation. So being a disciple must be something more than simply being a student of the ideology of Christ.
“I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.” Our faith isn’t theoretical. “No, I drive my body and train it.” Christian discipleship is about a life that is spiritual, physical, intellectual, all encompassing. Christianity involves the whole person. God created us to be body-soul composites. That means what we do with the body affects the soul and the soul affects the body. That’s why saints are able to endure such suffering. Their souls have the strength to bear the hardest physical toll as did their Lord. That’s why sins of the flesh are so dangerous, because they teach our souls to reject God.
“Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.” We train to be like Jesus, that we would share in His glory in heaven. What does your training regimen look like? Does it involve daily prayer? Daily sacrifice? Did you know that are five things that all Catholics are called to do? In chapter 2041 of the Catechism it says that these things (called precepts) are a “very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth of God and neighbor.”
- You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation.
- You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
- You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
- You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the church.
- You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.
Again, these are the minimum that we must do to be considered practicing Catholics! This is the outline of the training regimen established by Holy Mother Church. What can you do to supplement it? Take time to ask the Lord what He’s calling you to.
-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization