Dear Friends in Christ:
Last week I wrote about the characteristics of a dynamic disciple: Believing, Gathering, Growing, Loving and Leading, and how, as part of our mission as Catholics is not only to grow in these characteristics ourselves, but to help form others to become dynamic disciples as well.
A dynamic disciple is different than a follower or a member or a fan or casual observer. A dynamic disciple Believes that Jesus Christ is true God and true man and that he came to earth, lived, died and rose from the dead to save all people from sin and eternal death; Grows in their relationship with Jesus Christ each day by continually growing spiritually and by deepening their faith; Gathers regularly with other disciples in worship (liturgy), in service, and in community (small groups of believers); Loves as Jesus loves by being the hands and feet of Jesus in their home, work, and community, serving God and neighbor, and seeking to change lives and the world around them; Leads others to Jesus, to faith, and to the Church.
Many may look at these characteristics and look to their own lives and wonder. We can see the “what” of being a dynamic disciple, but that leads us to another question, “How?” “How does one do this? How does one become a dynamic disciple?” To answer this, I can easily point to any of many programs and ministries or give you countless practical tips. But there is another question behind all of this which is actually the most important question, “Why?’ Why should one want to be a dynamic disciple? Why should one want to have or develop and grow in the characteristics of Believing, Gathering, Growing, Loving and Leading? The simple answer to the question of “why” is because being a dynamic disciple of Jesus Christ offers us eternal, true, and perfect Happiness! God wants us to be perfectly happy! Jesus, the eternal and only begotten Son of God, took on human flesh to offer us a new, eternal, and perfect life of HAPPINESS. He founded a Church to carry on his invitation to this new life of happiness to all people of all places of all times. Now the happiness that God wants for us and offers us is not like the happiness, pleasure, peace or satisfaction that the world offers us. The main difference is that what the world offers is only fleeting and not truly fulfilling. The evidence of this is our constant appetite for change. As human beings we are always hungering for more, new and different and nothing of this world ever fully or completely satisfies us. We get bored, toss away the old and reach for the new. Desiring more is not terrible except for the fact that everything we grab hold of eventually gets old, loses its luster and its power to satisfy us. We get bored or angry or antsy and start looking for the next thing.
God is different. God never gets old and we can never exhaust his goodness, his love, his beauty or his truth. God who is perfect Beauty, Truth, and Goodness, is also infinite. God so loves us that when we open ourselves to Him, we cannot help but discover our true Happiness is in loving Him with all our heart. That is why I say, and you know, that the key to happiness is holiness! Unlike things of this world, when we have a relationship with God we cannot exhaust all of the facets of God. To enter into relationship with God the Father through Jesus his Son in the Holy Spirit, gives us identity, purpose, direction, and meaning. Loving God is why we were created and fulfilling that is the only way we can attain true and ultimate happiness!
Why are we Catholic? Why are we disciples of Jesus Christ? Because God loves us and wants us to be Happy with Him forever and we want everyone to share in that very same happiness that we experience in loving God as members of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church!
In pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately