U.S. bishops hope to equip all Catholics to become missionary disciples

Do unto others

by Bill Scholl

Did you know you and I are missionary disciples?

Pope Francis teaches that by “virtue of their baptism, all the members of the people of God have become missionary disciples.” Being baptized is actually a job description.

In 2013, Pope Francis wrote an apostolic exhortation entitled “Evangelii Gaudium,” Latin for “The Joy of the Gospel.” It calls us to rediscover our joy in Christ and to bring this joy to others as missionary disciples.

In response, the U.S. bishops are gathering what they’re calling the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America.” This conference will be unprecedented, with over 3,000 Catholic leaders from most dioceses in the country in attendance. Its focus is this: to equip the average Catholic to become a missionary disciple.

Please pray for the delegation from our archdiocese that, with God’s grace, we can receive what the Holy Spirit has to teach us about missionary discipleship, so we can bring it back to northeast Kansas.

What does it mean to be a missionary disciple? Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann has given us a simple definition. Our job as Catholics is to “grow as disciples of Jesus and make disciples for Jesus.”

Then, of course, we are not supposed to be just disciples, but missionary disciples. We are all on a mission from God: to find joy in Jesus Christ and share this joy with others.

When I think of the word “disciple,” I think it means we come under someone’s discipline. It’s a little like the classic 1980s movie, “The Karate Kid.”

Like Daniel-san, the young teen who came under the discipline of Mr. Miyagi in training to become a karate master, we come under the discipline of Jesus Christ. Becoming a mature Christian disciple can be frustrating and counterintuitive.

There’s a lot that may seem reminiscent of Miyagi’s “wax on, and wax off,” but obedience brings joyful mastery, with Jesus so close. What happens when we fail to show up to our Master’s dojo to spend time with him in prayer and study his life, contained in both the Bible and church teaching?

Many of us get more excited to share our favorite, bingeable show, GIF or meme than we are to talk about Jesus and how he is working in us and teaching us to be under his obedience.

Despite our training, it’s like we don’t show for the tournament for fear of Cobra Kai. It shouldn’t be so.

Pray for the delegates we are sending to the convocation. Pray rosaries, do novenas and lift us up at Mass. Our archdiocese is in great need of the “joy of the Gospel,” as is our country. It’s time America had another great awakening, and this convocation could be the alarm clock.

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