Father Mark’s Pastoral Direction

Characteristics of a Dynamic Disciple

Believes, Grows, Gathers, Loves and Leads

Beginning with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and in subsequent Papal Teachings we are called as members of the Church to be Dynamic Disciples.

In Jesus’ time it was not unusual for a person to seek out a master teacher from whom one could learn the ways of life and faith. Many expected that one of these teachers would be the Messiah, God’s Anointed One, who would establish God’s reign on earth.  Perhaps it isn’t so different in our time. Hundreds of political, business or self-help leaders present themselves as having the answers people need. If we’re honest with ourselves, many of us hope one of these individuals will have what we’re looking for.

Our Faith tells us that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the Teacher who has the answers for our lives. In Baptism, we have been drawn into a living relationship with Christ and the Christian community. Baptism is the beginning of discipleship.

A dynamic disciple Believes IN Jesus – this is the start of our Faith Journey! When we learn about Jesus’ teachings, we move toward Believing Jesus – His words, and living like Jesus modeled for us. Our hearts break for what broke His. We see things around us that previously escaped our attention.

We risk leaving our comfort zones. We change our priorities and where we are focusing our time and resources. We associate more frequently with those needing Jesus in their lives.

Jesus lives and works through us in other’s lives in a friction-less manner. A simple example is noticing a parishioner who looks uncertain because they are new here, or may even be going through a personal crisis, and need someone to comfort them in some small way such as introducing ourselves and welcoming them. Possibly even checking up on them later if appropriate (accompaniment).

As we grow in BELIEF we face our true selves. At some point the human longing that God wrote on each of our hearts begins to come into focus. We are then faced with a challenge: do we embrace our true identity, or do we shy away from the way God himself sees us?

As we allow ourselves to live out our calling, we also discover God’s unique plan for each of our lives, constantly being updated and focused as we live it. We are equipped with a unique mix of talents that allows us to step into the role God has for us, where we set aside our doubts and Trust Him.

As we use our talents and step into our unique role, we take part in building God’s Kingdom here on earth. We begin to look at the Great Commission, to spread the Gospel to all nations, as a key part of our calling, a responsibility and privilege that we feel drawn to fulfill to satisfy the longing in our hearts, and to give thanks for the very breath in our lungs. By our actions, by our words, by our lives.

A necessary requirement to accomplish these things is to focus on how we are intentionally GROWING in Christ – this will be the focus my homily for this weekend – the Second Sunday of Lent.

In the second Scripture Reading from the Gospel of Saint Luke for this past Wednesday of the First Week of Lent we read: “This generation is an evil generation: it seeks a sign.” What are the signs we are waiting for to jump start a change of heart and move us to action as Dynamic Disciples this Lenten season? For Chicagoan Candice Payne it was the weather report the last week of January: record-breaking cold temperatures were predicted for the Windy City. Candice put two and two together and was moved to compassion: she charged 20 hotel rooms to her American Express Card so that some of the city’s homeless would not freeze solid on the sidewalks. Her compassion snowballed into an avalanche of generosity from other Chicago dwellers! All it took was paying attention to the weather report….and taking note of the homeless.

Signs don’t have to be a vision in prayer, a bolt from the blue, or a jolt from deep within the Hayward Fault. Signs are all around us every day. We walk around them, step over them, surf past them on the internet, glance away from them on the front pages, but they follow us on our cell phones: information, images, events, faces, all day long there are signs that invite us, challenge us, compel us to change and to act.

Johann Baptist Metz, a renowned spiritual writer, wrote of “a mysticism with eyes wide open.” Mysticism is not fleeing from the world, or even retreating from the world, but wading into the world with eyes wide open, being attentive to every detail, being aware of what is around us: the sights, the sounds, the patterns, the people. The signs are there! The Second Vatican Council called them “the signs of the time”. In one of the Eucharistic Prayers in the celebration of the Eucharist we pray to recognize them. In reality we can’t miss them…unless we do our best to try! But, if we let them work on us, have their effect on us, conversion can begin in a real way for us this Lenten season.

Father Mark