prayer

What is the essence of following Jesus and being a disciple of Him?

A comparison of three books on discipleship written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Rowan Williams and Pope Francis

 

1. A description of being a disciple by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 1) Following Jesus provides and demands a changed life that undertakes the despised suffering in Christ for Christ. There is no cheap mercy. "Only the believer is obedient – only the obedient believes." 2) A half-Jesus cannot be accepted. Following Jesus is not following or interpreting rules but it is a total reliance with absolute confidence on that Christ, our Lord depicts Himself in us. We can find the Father in praying through Jesus. The Holy Trinity itself has harbored in Christians. At this point we do not interpret and live our lives from our viewpoints any more but in Christ for Christ. Discipleship (nevertheless) is the totality of freedom and joy. 3) Although it is the decision of each individual to follow Jesus but it cannot be kept away from the community of the disciples and the church. 4) Following Jesus separates us from the world ("There is not an own road leading from man to man. ... Christ stands between us as an obstacle. The only road to neighbors leads through Him"), but at the same time it links us to all people in the universality of love. 5) Following Jesus is not that broad way in which the crowd go. That is why, with the spreading strength of our whole lives spent in Jesus, we have to witness about our Lord at all times until He comes again. The intensity of the lines of "The Cost of Discipleship" makes it obvious that the writer does not present an intellectual or literary feat but his own, innermost self transformed in Christ – together with all its consequences. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. A description of being disciples by Rowan Williams. What were the most important statements of the book "Being disciples" to me? 1.) Discipleship is such a state of being in which you are silent and listening all the time; you just let Jesus’ act (and indirectly the Father’s act) happen by you. For we can hear God, silence is needed. It is in God’s hands who I am. We are the objects of eternal enjoyment. 2) The essence of discipleship is a fusion with the Holy Trinity’s life. Believing is faith that the truth is able to possess me and it keeps me even if I myself cannot hold on any longer. Discipleship is growth and joy. 3) The disciple is together with those (the poor and the excluded of the world), whom Jesus would like to accompany. We have to be such places where people are given time and space to meet the eternal love. Saints create joy around themselves and show the world in a new light. Others recognize in their presence that God is working in the world. You can see God in them instead of themselves.(If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. A description of being disciples by Pope Francis. What were the most significant statements of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "Rejoice and Be Glad" to me? 1) Holiness means that we are dying and resurrecting together with Christ continuously; its measure is determined by how large Christ’s counterpart is in us. Let the Holy Spirit transform you allowing this to happen. It is not life that has a mission, but life is the mission itself. In holiness you arrive to the point where you become the one whom the Father meant you to be when He created you. Dependence on Him is liberation from slavery. Being Christian is a joy in the Holy Spirit. 2) A trustful prayer is the answer of the heart opening to God calling Him „thou”, in which all words end allowing the Lord’s sweet voice to become audible in the silence. In this silence, in the Spirit’s light you can recognize the paths of holiness that are shown by the Lord. Otherwise our decisions are just "decorations" that, instead of implementing the Gospel in our lives, hide and strangle it. 3) Holiness does not mean that our eyes sparkle in an anticipated ecstasy. If we really start with observing Christ, we have to recognize Him on those people’s (the poor’s and the sufferers’) faces whom He wanted to identify with. Mercy is the vault that supports the church’s life. Humility can take roots in the heart only through experiencing indignity. 4) Nobody is redeemed alone, isolated, one by one. Keeping an eye on the net of human relationships, God attracts us to Himself. The community of believers is for creating the divine space in which the resurrected Lord’s mysterious presence can be experienced. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

4. A comparison of the three descriptions of discipleship. The three descriptions of discipleship contain a numerous significant similarities. There is a twofold reason for the high level of matches. On the one hand the three books contain the description of discipleship’s realization and do not deal with the dogmatically founded reasons of discipleship. On the other hand all three authors are theologists of the cross and not the glory regarding their personalities and attitudes. Jesus depicted in us (though He is depicted differently in everyone) is the same Jesus according to the essence of these three witnesses’ wordings. Though we are all blind and touch the very different parts of the elephant, still the very same elephant has to appear from the fragmented pictures as our life experiences are put together. Beside my own inner certainty of this, it has been a pleasure to experience a "common certainty" during reading and comparing these three excellent books. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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What is Christian identity?

Season opening thoughts about the first commandment

 

1. Our fake Gods, our fake Christianity. A lot of people think that it is quite easy to obey the first commandment. We have been baptized and affirmed our baptism by confirmation. What else is Christian identity, if not this? I have to disagree with the sisters and brothers thinking these. Christian identity is not a set of features. It is not community membership. It cannot be gained. It cannot be possessed. The Lord will only be our sole God if we do not place anything even close to Him that may reach His importance. (For further details, please read my season opening essay here.)

 

2. The roots of Christian identity. The most important source of Christian identity is living in a communion with the Holy Trinity. Looking at the Ten Commandments from the light of the New Testament it is obvious that God’s intention is not to restrict us but to fulfill us. Knowing God’s Totality and experiencing His endless love, we can see that obeying the Ten Commandments becomes a consequence – and not a requirement. The dual communion experienced with God and fellow human beings is not else than the love command of Jesus (Matthew 22:37-39). The specific manifestation of Christian identity’s roots is the prayer, the Sacraments (the baptism and especially the Eucharist) and the Word of God. (For further details, please read my season opening essay here.)

 

3. The trunk and shoots of Christian identity. The first important element of Christian identity’s trunk is the recognition of sin and the fear of God. The most important element of Christian identity’s trunk is the gradual formation of Jesus’ face and His whole self in us. There are a lot of shoots of Christian identity that are individual characteristics of Christian believers. (For further details, please read my season opening essay here.)

 

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Lenten thoughts about the FORCE-field of Jesus

The power of the Eucharist

 

1. Lives accompanied by Jesus without noticing His presence. Many of us have Jesus sitting in the middle of our lives while He remains invisible and incomprehensible for us for years or even for decades. Why is it a problem if we do not recognize that Jesus living in ourselves is Jesus? Since our hearts may harden to openness, attention and accepting the love coming from Jesus. From that moment on we only "use" Jesus and do not pass on what He has given us. In such case we close ourselves into our own egos that isolate us from Jesus’ FORCE-field. (If you would like to read more about this, please, read my essay here.)

 

2. What is the FORCE-field of Jesus? Jesus’s FORCE-field is a compass: it shows us the Path, moreover: the right Path leading to the Truth. Jesus’s FORCE-field is an inexhaustible source of love filling us with such a "flow" feeling that can be shared with everyone without limitation. This "Jesus-flow" is nothing else but Life itself. Jesus’s FORCE-field is an inextricably strong love community making us capable of doing everything that fulfils the Father’s will and serves His Glory. (If you would like to read more about this, please, read my essay here.)

 

3. How can we feel the FORCE-field of Jesus? We may become sensitive to feeling (and accepting) Jesus’ FORCE-field through thanksgiving: in our joy; through crying out appealing: in our great trouble; through purification: right now, in the Lenten period; through a prayer, practicing love, mercy and humility: anytime. There are a thousand ways to get opened for the FORCE field of Jesus’ love. Even a faith community of only "two or three members" has a huge power to call the Holy Spirit who can make us capable to find the Path to the heart of Jesus. Finally and as a fulfilment: when we take the Body and the Blood of Christ in the Holy Communion or Lord’s Supper we get into such a physical and spiritual unity with Jesus, with the Trinity and with all the believers who have ever lived since the foundation of the Christianity, live now and will live in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, that eliminates the darkness in us and puts us into the love community of Jesus’s FORCE-field. (If you would like to read more about this, please, read my essay here.)

 

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The power of prayer

Thoughts about the forms of our connection with God

 

 

 

1. Lives in which prayer does not “fit in”. Here I describe the monologue of two people. One of them is extremely poor, the other is extremely rich. The end of the two monologues are the same: I have my own problems. Leave me alone with worlds I do not even know anything about. This world has already overwhelmed me. (If you would like to read more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

 

2. Prayers to ourselves. A prayer for a lot of people is a... a.) monologue; b.) relief; c.) complaint; d.) solution; e.) obligation, role; f.) salvation. „Even a badly told prayer is much better than a prayer not told.” (Saint Teresa of Ávila) (If you would like to read more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. The thousand faces of the genuine prayer: The blissful paths leading us to God. A real prayer searches for the Giver, not the gift. The genuine prayer is Silence listening to the totality of God living within us. A real prayer is not about us. It asks for and awaits the love, truth and will of God to the center of our hearts. In a real prayer we make ourselves silent in order to let God fill us. A real prayer does not decrease but increases our freedom explosively. Only in full knowledge of our pitifulness and indignity we can accept the mercy that delivers us from our pitifulness and indignity. A real prayer has a thousand faces. A real prayer – is our lives themselves as a whole. A real prayer does not live in time. A real prayer opens the gate of Paradise again and places the re-creating hands of God into our lives. (If you would like to read more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

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