A reflection on the book Following Christ by Dylan Reyes, CFC FFL Fulltime Worker. Following Christ is a book written by our Servant General, Frank Padilla.
A professor of ours once told us that there is a significant difference on how the western world and the eastern world understand what it means to be a disciple. Yes, for both worlds to be a disciple is to be a student or a follower, however the difference lie on how one disciple is expected to follow. For the west, it is enough for a student to just go to their master and listen to him while for the east, a student must live with their master so that he can listen and learn from him. I believe that this is how disciples of Christ learn from Him and that is by staying with Him.
For Jesus to be a disciple is deeply rooted in the relationship built between the master and the disciple. It is not just about knowing the master but it is all about growing in a relationship with the master. This what CFC FFL has brought into my life! From just knowing who God is, this community has taught me how to build a personal relationship with Him. I believe that this is the reason why this book of Tito Frank is very crucial not only for our brethren in community but for all of those who profess that they are followers of Christ. It is a reminder for all of us that to be a disciple is not just a title to profess but a relationship to be sustained.
Thus, my journey into discipleship is shape by what Tito Frank said in this book. That it is rooted in my relationship with Him as a child of God, as a servant of the Lord and as a soldier in his army.
1. Son of God
I am a disciple of God because I am His child first. In all my years in community, what I learned is that I cannot follow God not unless I fully embrace my real identity that I am His son, this is because to follow God is difficult. Jesus has laid down the price of discipleship, he said that to be His disciples, one must deny himself, take up the cross daily and follow Him. This is a very high price to pay to be a disciple and extremely difficult to do. Yet, there is way to make it bearable and that is to embrace the idea that I am striving to be a disciple because I want to follow my Father. My desire to be a disciple should always be rooted in my desire to obey the will of my Father and to always be near Him. That is why praying and reading scripture has been crucial in my journey to discipleship. It is in the moments where I can talk to my Father and spend time with Him can I grow in my relationship with Him which give me the strength to continue in my journey.
To embrace also this identity also means to accept everyone as your brothers and sisters. My experience in community has showed me that even if my brothers and sisters are not perfect they are one with you in their struggle to follow the will of the Father. With them the journey to discipleship becomes more meaningful because I could share with them my experiences and they also serve as my companion to continue with my journey.
2. Servant of God
Jesus told His disciples that whoever believes in Him will do His works and they will do even greater things. Thus, a disciple is someone who tends to do the will of their master and learns how to do his will effectively. If this is the case then it is impossible for me to follow God if I am not serving Him. I am a disciple of God because I choose to serve Him. That is why for me it is very important to be faithful to the service given to me. I always believe that my service will lead me closer to God. That is why I commit myself to give more than what is expected of me in my service. I could do my service faithfully because my journey into discipleship is greatly influenced by men and women who through their words and actions have showed me how to serve God with all their heart, mind and soul. They have inspired me by their total self-giving to God and through their generosity of their time, talent and treasure. I think because of them why I willingly accept God’s invitation for me to be a missionary. In all my years in community, they have showed me that some things are better caught than taught.
That is why it is also important to accept the reality that everyone who serves God is our co-servant in the Lord. We might have different programs, ministries, approaches and ways in doing our service for the Lord but remember that we are all doing it for our One Lord. Thus, our co-servants are not our enemies rather they are our partners in the mission.
3. Soldier of God
St. Paul said to the Christians in Ephesus that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. He is trying to show us that a disciple is not just a son and a servant, he is also a soldier. I am a disciple of God because I stand up to be counted in the army of the Lord. As a soldier of God, I have learned not to count the cost and to willingly suffer and sacrifice myself for the Lord. In my journey to discipleship I could experience a lot of oppression and hurt from the people outside the community and even from the people inside the community but I accepted the fact that it is part of the life that I choose. That is why instead of quitting I just continue to march forward with God and claim the victory He has already won in the cross.
That is why it is also important to remember to ask for the prayers and support of our brothers and sisters every time we do the work of God. We need their intercession to win every battle that we face. Only in accepting that our brothers and sisters are also our comrade in arms can we win very battle that comes our way.
Jesus calls us to become his disciples. This is a call that we fail to understand. That is why we failed to live out what it really means to be a disciple. Reading the book reminded me once again that is all about having a personal relationship with God and an intimate relationship with our brothers and sisters. It is about being true to the call of proclaiming the good news of salvation to the entire world. As part of CFC FFL and being one with the Catholic Church, we are privileged to be given such great privilege responsibility. Let us then give our all to make everyone a follower of Jesus Christ.