We Must Fulfill Our Duties As Jesus’ Disciples

A young couple asked me to preside at their upcoming wedding. I was soon disappointed when they informed me that they did not intend to have any form of marriage preparation for their wedding. They simply reasoned that they had a sincere love for each other and so there was really no need for them to have a formal preparation for marriage in the Church. So, basically, they were asking me to solemnize their marriage simply because they loved each other even if they did not know and understand the duties of married love before God. 

Is having love in our hearts and being good-intentioned alone enough for us to embrace and fulfill our vocations in the Church? I don’t think so. Every vocation in the Church has its duties. Those who are called to that vocation must know, understand, accept, and strive to fulfill the duties of that vocation by the grace of God. It is not enough to have love in our hearts.  

Personally speaking, I have a love for God and His people and I spent close a decade preparing for the Catholic priesthood. Yet I have moments of difficulty being faithful to the duties of the priesthood.  How then can some people want to get married in the Church without any due knowledge and preparation for the duties of married love?

The same thing applies to our ultimate vocation here on earth – to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ in and through any state of life in which we find ourselves. But do we know and fulfill our duties as Christ’s disciples? For an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ, love for Jesus alone is insufficient without striving to know and fulfill the duties that flow from this love, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”(Jn 14:15)

Jesus describes our first duty as His disciples in these words, “No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.” Because He is our only teacher, our first duty in all things is to become more and more Him in all things – all that we think, say, and do. It is not enough to say that we have love for Him if we are not becoming more like Him.

Our second duty as disciples of Jesus Christ is to lead and help others to become more like Jesus too. Jesus denounces both hypocrisy and indifference in our attitude towards others. We must avoid hypocrisy first so that we can be better guides for others in their own journey to becoming more like Christ, “You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your own eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” (See Lk 6:39-45) We must be seriously striving to become more like Jesus before we can help others to become more like Him.

How then can we fulfill our first duty of becoming like Christ so that we can help others to also become like Him?

Firstly, we must focus on Jesus alone as the source of all the goodness that we see in ourselves and in others. We do not have any interior goodness on our own apart from the goodness that God offers us in the Sacred Heart of His Son, Jesus Christ, “A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil.”

Secondly, we must be ready to receive life and goodness from Jesus alone if we are going to guide others to Him. Because He is forever the Light of the world, Jesus asks us, “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?” We are all blind apart from Him. Thus, we must receive the light of divine grace from Christ Jesus first if we are going to help others to become more like Him.

Thirdly, we must believe that Jesus, by His death and resurrection, has overcome sin and death. In the words of St. Paul, “The sting of death is sin…But thanks be to God who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (See 1Cor 15:54-58) This is the Gospel! Because of Jesus and what He has done for us, sinful thoughts, words, and actions have no power over us now. By His grace alone, we too can think, talk, and act like Him in all things and help others to do the same.

Fourthly, we must be ready to share in the experiences of Jesus during His earthly life, “No disciple is superior to the teacher.” We cannot expect others to treat us better than they treated Him. We cannot expect success all the time when He experienced visible failures. We cannot expect demons to tempt us less than they tempted Him. We cannot expect to have a life free of suffering and pain when He chose to save us through suffering with love. We cannot expect all to love us when all hated Him. We can never act like Christ if we are reluctant to share in His own earthly experiences.

Lastly, we must have Jesus as the only model in our lives and refuse to compare ourselves with others. We become complacent when we compare ourselves with others, thinking, “Well, I am not that bad; at least I am not as bad as so-and-so.” Looking at Jesus as our only model, we experience His love that challenges us to become more like Him, we are moved out of ourselves and towards Him, and we are filled with hope that we can truly become more like Him.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God will give us all that we need to be faithful to our duties as His disciples in whatever vocation He calls us. The first thing that He offers us is His love and our love for others. He also gives us what we need to be “firm, and steadfast, always devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.” Love alone is not enough; we must embrace fully the “work of the Lord,” and become more like Christ in all things.

If we are not fulfilling our duties as disciples of Jesus today, nothing can make us happy in our vocations and we cannot be with God in heaven forever. Christlikeness and helping others to be Christlike – this is why we are alive today and why God offers us His love, mercy, and graces unceasingly. Heaven is only for those who become more like Jesus and who help others to become more like Him. We cannot be conformed to Him in glory if we are not like Him here on earth.

The grace of each Eucharist transforms us more into Christ Jesus. This grace also moves us to become more like Him in our thoughts, words, and actions. As we fulfill our duty to become more like Him through our Eucharist today, let us also remember that there are many bad disciples of Jesus today in our world. We find them in our families, workplaces, Church, and society. Jesus shed His blood for them also to become more like Him. Above all things, they need to see Jesus in our words and actions and to draw hope from us to become more like Him. The last things they need are our hypocrisy or indifference that says, “Who am I to judge?”

Let us help them in any way that we can – thoughts, words, actions, prayers, sacrifices, etc. – to become more Christlike. This is our duty as Jesus’ disciples and love alone is not enough.

Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!

Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash

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Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at  www.toquenchhisthirst.wordpress.com.

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