Today the Church celebrates the sainthood of Mother Teresa. She had lived her life everyday as a disciple of Christ, and she had lived it well. Today, lightly speaking, she is upgraded from disciple to saint.
Do we aspire to be a saint, or even want to be a disciple? Well, sort of yes and no. For many of us, it is an incredulous question; it is so far-fetched we won’t spend a minute pondering. Then there is also the difficult qualification, “none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions”.
When we succumbed to the incredulity of the notion, we are actually undervaluing ourselves. When we exclaim, “no way, me?” we are grossly underestimating our capacity to be good to self and to others. Deep down in all of us, we have this capacity to be a saint. But first we need to want to be an everyday disciple.
“The reasonings of mortals are unsure and our intentions unstable; for a perishable body presses down the soul, and this tent of clay weighs down the teeming mind.”
To start out on this path of discipleship, we must address the mind and set the heart to say a ‘small yes’ so that we have an objective to focus all we decide and do towards it. Few among us with our “perishable body” will be able to say a ‘BIG, hearty, convincing yes’. But a weak ‘small yes’ is all that is required; it is enough for the Holy Spirit to act through us.
Mother Teresa herself answered with many small yeses in the things she did every day. She did small things everyday but with great love. She was an everyday disciple.
Our “everyday” is filled with the same opportunities. The greatest possession we have is not money. It is ‘time’. We can go and be good to others when we have time, even without money. We cannot be good with money only if we have no time. “To be good to others” is to be a fulfilment of “to love your neighbour”. To be good is to be a follower to make real and personal the love of God to others. Christ came and died for this reason. To be a follower our footsteps need to be synchronised with this same reason.
Our ‘time’ is our life. When time runs out for us, life expires. Consequently if we spend our time with someone else to help with a task, to console if there is hurt or to journey as companions in faith, we give our time away. We give away some of our life. In this way we die to self and give life. Every day we have hours. Every day we can give up our possession. Every day we can be a disciple.
We help ourselves to be more specific in the good things we can do by identifying a specific mission of the Church that suit our gifting. We join a ministry, hopefully a community to encircle ourselves with likeminded people. Together as a community it is easier to walk the path of discipleship. With a group of people, as compared to a lone self, undertaking mission we multiply the sense of fulfilment. Together, we make ourselves available to God’s affirmation; He can better affirm us through the words and action of one another.
Gradually through involvement in ministry our priorities for the other things in everyday life will begin to shift. Gradually we will see more importance in what brings happiness to others because we will begin to taste true happiness on this path. Happiness is found when we make others happy by being good for them. Gradually we fall in love with God and grow in passion for his work. These will all happen gradually in the everyday opportunities in our daily life. We gradually become an everyday disciple.
We shape our cross to be this; on this cross we carry our effort and sacrifices to live a redemptive life. And on this cross too hangs our personal struggles. But they will become a little bit more manageable and little less heavy when we are able to live our life in more faith. Faith grows and multiplies in our everyday encounters along the path of discipleship.
“Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple”.He didn’t say that to be a disciple we will be given more crosses. We carry on our cross, the weight on your shoulders our effort to live a life where God’s love can flow through us to touch others. Mother Teresa shaped her cross to be heavy; she worked in tough conditions but she found immense fulfilment to lighten it. She did it in small ways, every day.
We too have this opportunity to be an everyday disciple.
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time