Christian discipleship is a relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church
Mark 8:27 – 29 “‘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?’ And they told him, ‘John the Baptist, others Elijah, others again, one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he asked them, ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter spoke up and said to him, ‘You are the Christ.’”
In this passage taken from the Gospel of St. Mark, our Lord Jesus Christ is putting a question to His earliest disciples which includes His original twelve Apostles, the chief of whom is St. Peter. This question is a profound question of Faith, which is the heart of the Catholic Christian Faith and teachings of the Church, about the very Person of Jesus Christ. This is a question not just for the Church as a whole, but for each individual Christian, so who is Jesus Christ to me? To me He is my Lord and God, and more personally He is my Friend, my Redeemer, my Saviour and my Teacher, my Shepherd, my King, and also my true Life. To come to this took many years of journeying with the Lord and the Church, years of trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows, which result in greater trust in the Lord, such that I am willing to renounce the happy family life and enjoyable career that I have now to take up my cross and live the life He has called me to live.
From young I always wanted to know God the Father very personally, and gradually with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Jesus Christ and the Saints, I have come to a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ and I now understand deeply the following verse taken from St. John’s Gospel,
John 14:6 “Jesus said: I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
For years my family and many Priests and catechists in Church taught me that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Lord, and it was through years of struggles with sins overcome through prayer and reading the Bible, that I came to experience deeply the love of Jesus Christ our Lord, and actually from a young age I at times thought of being single for the Lord and the kingdom of God. Then gradually I began to see the Lord inviting me to consider the Catholic Priesthood, through my growing love for Jesus Christ and the Bible, the Mass and the whole Catholic Church and even fellow Christians from the Protestant and Orthodox communities and all peoples regardless of race and religion. This was a result of understanding the love of God revealed in the cross of Jesus Christ, as best expressed in the following verse taken from St. Paul’s epistle,
Galatians 6:14 “ But as for me, it is out of the question that I should boast at all, except of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Often I still find that I need to constantly renew my commitment to discerning my vocation, and I’m still an aspirant, not yet a Seminarian, but honestly the moment when I went for the Sacrament of Confirmation at the age of 15 years old, I already wanted to live a life of prayer and holiness for the Lord. Those years I offered my studies to the Lord, and I did relatively well in my studies in the areas of Chemistry, Physics, History, Mathematics, but honestly, I had to put in many hours and days of prayer and studies to do well when I took my O Levels at the age of 16. Subsequently I committed myself to serving at a ministry in Church since the age of 17, in the midst of studying at the Polytechnic, doing National Service, studying 3 years abroad at a University in Brisbane, Australia, and now whilst working as an Audit Associate for more than 2 years, which to a certain extent is in line with the following verses from St. James’ epistle to the Church,
James 2:17 – 18 “In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead. 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.”
I find my peace and security in the Lord, for I have had times when my life was in danger, especially when I travelled around Europe and went around Australia, many a times, as a single person in a new place, and also during my NS days. There were years I felt a sense of spiritual conflict during my teenage years, but I understand that in the midst of all those years of making sense of the world – both the material and spiritual world – it was necessary to help me discover what the Lord desires of me. I can say that the Lord has always been generous to me, which resounds with the words from the Psalmist:
Psalm 114 (116):7 – 9 “My heart, be at peace once again, for Yahweh has treated you generously. He has rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling. I shall pass my life in the presence of Yahweh, in the land of the living.”
I know that like my Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, I can trust in God the Father’s protective love and can take courage as a disciple of His Son Jesus Christ. I understand that the road ahead is tougher than what was behind, which is true for all who take up their cross and follow Jesus. Yet I know God will deliver me as He has always done so, which resounds with what the Prophet Isaiah says about the deliverance of Christ the suffering servant of God in
Isaiah 50:7 – 9 “Lord Yahweh comes to my help, this is why insult has not touched me, this is why I have set my face like flint and know that I shall not be put to shame. He who grants me saving justice is near! Who will bring a case against me? Let us appear in court together! Who has a case against me? Let him approach me! Look, Lord Yahweh is coming to my help! Who dares condemn me? Look at them, all falling apart like moth-eaten clothes!”
I find that I enjoy my years of studies, travelling, working part-time, National Service and to a certain extent my current career;I am grateful to God for helping me through the struggles and giving me the consolations. Hence I’m willing to take the leap of Faith to leave all things behind and follow Jesus Christ.
Why is this so? Because of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and through a revelation I received from the Lord in mid-2009 of the Mass being filled with both the Church on Earth and the Angels and Saints adoring and worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father and the Holy Spirit. I remember that after that, Mass became important to me not just as a duty or obligation, but a celebration with the people of God and it made me understand that I cannot leave the Catholic Church to start my own Protestant denomination because Jesus showed me that I had to gather with Him in His Church. This and many other experiences of the Lord Jesus’ presence in my life and the lives of those around me edify my decision to continue discerning my vocation a step further if the Church confirms the call from the Lord as a call to enter the Seminary.
Jesus Christ is Lord, and I hope to be His faithful friend and disciple as He has been a faithful friend to me. I want to live my life fully for Him and the Church, to help others encounter Jesus, another desire I had from my childhood which comes and goes. Honestly, it is a difficult choice as I enjoy family life a lot. I love my parents, my older sister and her family especially my young nephew and baby niece, and also my cousins and their children who are also my nephews and nieces, and also my uncles and aunts and grandma. I enjoy my time spent with friends in ministry and community.
To enter the Seminary would mean I’d have less time with them. Yet I know God cannot be outdone in generosity, and I remember two of my best friends who are Saints already, actually very popular Saints as one walked with Jesus for 3 years and the other met Jesus and changed from persecutor of the Church to a great Apostle. They are none other than the two most famous Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, who in their own lives gradually offered up all for Jesus Christ, such that many came to believe in Jesus Christ through their lives and ministry.
I’d say that all of us who are Christians should strive to be the kind of disciple the Lord wants us to be. We are called to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, as our Lord Jesus tells us. We need to discover the personal missions and the charisms (gifts) the Lord has given us for the good of the Church, and to know how He wants us to work together to build up the kingdom of God.
Let us pray for one another, and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ through our prayers and faithful reading of the Bible and living our relationships with Him. Trusting in the Lord’s love and generosity, let us turn to God the Father, in the words our Saviour Jesus Christ taught us:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.