Objective of the week:
To know where I am in my being a disciple of Christ and to allow Him to train me more so that I may know him and become like Him as my Master.
Let us now assess our Christian journey, how we live with Christ in every situation that we ecounter each day. Last week, we were reminded of how to bring ourselves into a deeper process of forming an apostle. The only thing that helps us deepen our journey is commitment. Let us take the fundamental stages of discipleship.
In the VDMFa there are three fundamental stages distinguished: initiation, discipleship and apostolic stage.
1. Initial stage: this is the formation which the VDMFa offers to people in the first moment of contact and knowledge of the Verbum Dei charism. (School of the Word)
2. Discipleship stage: the formation in the discipleship stage includes the period from which the person freely wishes to commit themselves to the VDMFa until the person does a stable commitment in the VDMFa (School of the Apostles)
3. Apostolic stage: this stage includes in a permanent way those who have made a stable commitment in the VDMFa
(Statutes of the VDMFa 70)
The core values of these stages are prayer and commitment. Prayer is an initial step to form us into God’s apostles because it is an opening element to invoke the Holy Spirit to descend upon us and to allow us to be used in the service of God through man. It is in the service that we can bear much fruit; that is why in discipleship, commitment is the most essential factor for it does not count time, distance and situations but rather the urgency to take part of the mission which persuades the disciple to serve.
You are my Lord
14 How does it help, my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith bring salvation? 15 If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, 16 and one of you says to them, 'I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,' without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? 17 In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead. 18 But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith.
Faith is essential in our following with Jesus. It does not need to announce but to practice in every single situation that we take; for faith is measured by actions. We should make sure that our decisions are pleasing to God and that our work is connected to God’s design.
How is my following with Jesus? Do my thoughts and actions commensurate my faith?
You are my Companion
27 Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, 'Who do people say I am?' 28 And they told him, 'John the Baptist, others Elijah, others again, one of the prophets.' 29 'But you,' he asked them, 'who do you say I am?' Peter spoke up and said to him, 'You are the Christ.' 30 And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him. 31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of man was destined to suffer grievously, and to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; 32 and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter tried to rebuke him. 33 But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are thinking not as God thinks, but as human beings do.' 34 He called the people and his disciples to him and said, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
How wonderful it is when Jesus asks us personally this question, “Who do people say that I am?” This question can be answered by us based on the depth of our relationship with Him. God does not expect us to have a perfect answer but rather based on how much we commit ourselves to Him every day.
If you were asked by Jesus with the same question, how would you answer Him?
You are my Friend
24 It makes me happy to be suffering for you now, and in my own body to make up all the hardships that still have to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church, 25 of which I was made a servant with the responsibility towards you that God gave to me, that of completing God's message, 26 the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his holy people. 27 It was God's purpose to reveal to them how rich is the glory of this mystery among the gentiles; it is Christ among you, your hope of glory: 28 this is the Christ we are proclaiming, admonishing and instructing everyone in all wisdom, to make everyone perfect in Christ. 29 And it is for this reason that I labour, striving with his energy which works in me mightily.
(Colossians 1:24 - 2:3)
I want you to know, then, what a struggle I am having on your behalf and on behalf of those in Laodicea, and on behalf of so many others who have never seen me face to face.
39. He also told them a parable, 'Can one blind person guide another? Surely both will fall into a pit?
40. Disciple is not superior to teacher; but fully trained disciple will be like teacher.
41. Why do you observe the splinter in your brother's eye and never notice the great log in your own?
42. How can you say to your brother, "Brother, let me take out that splinter in your eye," when you cannot see the great log in your own? Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter in your brother's eyes.
As Christians, we already know the unconditional love of Jesus. He suffered and died for us. We also need to reciprocate the love He gave. We should not look at the mistakes and failures of our brothers and sisters; instead, we have to look at our personal relationship with Him through our neighbors. Let’s examine on the fundamental stages if we were able to move on spiritually but if not, let us not find ways to settle on our comfort zone. Otherwise, temptation and sin will come in and we lose our opportunity to build the Kingdom of God.
As far as the VD fundamental stages are concerned, which of these stages have I settled in?
You are my Hope
Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, you must look for the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at God's right hand. 2 Let your thoughts be on things above, not on the things that are on the earth, 3 because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. 4 But when Christ is revealed -- and he is your life-you, too, will be revealed with him in glory. 5 That is why you must kill everything in you that is earthly: sexual vice, impurity, uncontrolled passion, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same thing as worshipping a false god; 6 it is precisely these things which draw God's retribution upon those who resist. 7 And these things made up your way of life when you were living among such people, 8 but now you also must give up all these things: human anger, hot temper, malice, abusive language and dirty talk; 9 and do not lie to each other. You have stripped off your old behaviour with your old self, 10 and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its Creator; 11 and in that image there is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised and uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.
God created the world for us to use it for His greater glory, yet, we misuse them because of our selfishness. We even treat them as persons and persons as objects. God doesn’t want us to be enslaved by material things for these are not essential. We have to work in accordance to the intention of our Father. Because of this, we are building treasures in heaven. At the same time, we are gradually forming ourselves to be like Christ.
What kind of treasure are you keeping now? Are they acceptable in the kingdom of heaven?
You are my Savior
12 As the chosen of God, then, the holy people whom he loves, you are to be clothed in heartfelt compassion, in generosity and humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with one another; forgive each other if one of you has a complaint against another. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. 14 Over all these clothes, put on love, the perfect bond. 15 And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together in one body. Always be thankful. 16 Let the Word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; 17 and whatever you say or do, let it be in the name of the Lord Jesus, in thanksgiving to God the Father through him.
We, the Verbum Dei disciples are called to a life of love, to love God with our whole being through others. So, we must die ourselves from self-centeredness. Let’s heed to the exhortation of the Church to bring Christ to our brothers and sisters. This can be realized if we continue to practice the Verbum Dei fundamental stages for it deepens our commitment in following Christ.
You are my Life
20 Then fixing his eyes on his disciples he said: How blessed are you who are poor: the kingdom of God is yours. 21 Blessed are you who are hungry now: you shall have your fill. Blessed are you who are weeping now: you shall laugh. 22 'Blessed are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of man. 23 Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, look!-your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.
27. 'But I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28. bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly.
29. To anyone who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek as well; to anyone who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic.
30. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from someone who takes it.
31. Treat others as you would like people to treat you.
35. Instead, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
36. 'Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate.
A true disciple is measured through the people that surround him and through the circumstances that he is facing. If the disciple lives in prayer, he is not easily carried away by the negative forces from outside but sets aside his human desires and consequently allows gentleness, compassion and mercy to work in him.
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 116
2nd Reading: James 2:14-18
Gospel: Mark 8:27-35
Weekly Prayer Guidelines
Read this week's guidelines to help you deepen in the Word of God for today.