Discipleship

            One news item that caught my attention this week was Lady Gaga’s meteoric popularity. It was reported that she had become the first Twitter user to reach 20 million followers. She tops the microblogging site’s most popular list ahead of fellow pop stars Justin Bieber (18 million) and Katty Perry (15.7 million). Added to this is her massive following in Facebook with 48 million fans. The reason for such following is her being there for the fans. She personally updates her account: she is active, she participates, she listens, she engages. In short, people feel her close. No wonder she has a lot of following. When you follow her in Tweeter, you’ll be called a “little monster.”
            Christians are followers of Jesus. I wonder how many followers will He have in Twitter or Facebook were He to go online? Such hypothetical question, though, will never have a definite answer. I can simply guess. For Jesus is no longer with us in flesh and blood to interact and engage in people’s modern lives using new technologies. But had he lived in our time He would surely use them for His Ministry to reach out to people.
            An attempt was made to put this idea into a work of religious fiction. Back in 1983, Fr. Joseph Girzone, a priest from New York who retired from his pastoral ministry due to health reasons, wrote a book “Joshua: A Parable for Today.” It sought to answer the question: what if Jesus came back today? Through Joshua’s character, Jesus returns to the world quietly. Still as a carpenter, he lives in the outskirts of a small town of Auburn. Through his kindness, selflessness and simple ways, his neighbors are mystified. All who come in contact with him are transformed by his warmth. He is never too busy to stop and have an uplifting conversation. He listens to people and he wins their hearts. His life reminds people of his greatest message of love. It’s a beautiful parable of how Jesus can be engaging, challenging yet close.
            The real challenge today is to imitate and follow Jesus. More daringly, to be Him! St. Paul tried to benchmark himself when he said: “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). I ask myself: Am I simply a fan or a follower? The disciples of Jesus today need to listen and participate in the lives of people if only to bring the presence of Christ in the world. The Church needs to share the joys and struggles of people in order to be relevant. Among our Church leaders who bring the message of Jesus a fresh packaging is the Archbishop of Manila, Luis Tagle. Being media savvy and a good communicator, he is able to connect to people of our times. Though I really don’t know him personally, his profile says that he is a much sought-after speaker and a published writer. He hosts a weekly tele-evangelizing program, has a YouTube channel and maintains his own Facebook account. I applied to be added as one of his “friends” to check his account and indeed he has many followers. He has 91,424 “likes” and counting..
            Recently I attended an Archdiocesan Discernment Orientation at the Archbishop Palace. The forum was convened by the Archbishop of Cebu, His Excellency Jose Palma. Most of the participants were priests and religious, both diocesan and religious from the different seminaries and houses of formation in Cebu. The aim of the gathering, as explained by the moderator, Msgr. Rommel Kintanar, was to form “circles of discernment” to fight the many evils of our time and to be able to respond collectively to actual needs and social concerns. One message that struck me in that forum was the statement formulated by the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG) in their 1st General Assembly on November 8-9, 2010 here in Cebu City. It read: “Jesus of Nazareth, the mystic and prophet, driven by the Spirit after his baptism in the Jordan, communed with God in the wilderness as a mystic. Afterwards, He returned to the people as a prophet.”
            Following Jesus involves prayer and action – being a mystic and a prophet. As we bend our knees and practice our rituals, we also need to open our eyes to the sufferings of our brothers and sisters who are marginalized. 

            We need to put flesh to our compassion so that people can still feel close to Jesus. When you follow Jesus, you’ll be a lamp. You shine!     

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.