Today, we look at the distinctive call of the Christian. Unfortunately, Christianity is often presented “old-school,” in an antique way, as the Aparecida bishops describe how it used to be for pagans:
131. The call issued by Jesus, the Master, brings with it something very new. In antiquity, masters invited their disciples to be bound to something transcendent, and the masters of the Law proposed adherence to the Law of Moses.
Jesus does it differently:
Jesus invites us to encounter Him and to bind ourselves closely to Him, for He is the source of life (cf. Jn 15:5-15) and He alone has the words of eternal life (cf. Jn 6:68). In daily shared life with Jesus and in confrontation with followers of other masters, the disciples soon discover two completely original things about Jesus. First, it was not they who chose their master; it was Christ who chose them. Second, they were not chosen for something (e.g., to be purified, learn the Law) but for Someone, chosen to be closely bound up with his Person (cf. Mk 1:17; 2:14).
The significance of this cannot be understated. The Master chooses us. Not just as a people, a privileged community, a Christian elite. Jesus chooses each person for who they are. And in turn, the disciple aligns not with a philosophy (like moral therapeutic deism, or Catholicism, or some spot on the liberal/conservative spectrum) but with a person.
Jesus chose them so that “they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach” (Mk 3:14), so that they could follow him in order to “be His” and be part “of his own” and share in his mission. The disciple experiences that the close bond with Jesus in the group of his own means participating in the Life that comes from the bosom of the Father; it means being formed to take on his own style of life and his same motivations (cf. Lk 6:40b), sharing his lot and taking on his mission of making all things new.
And what follows these choices is a mission.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.