The process of forming disciples: this will keep our attention through section 285.
6.2 THE PROCESS OF FORMATION OF MISSIONARY DISCIPLES
276. The vocation and commitment to be disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ today in Latin America and the Caribbean requires a clear and firm option for the formation of our communities, for the sake of all the baptized, regardless of the role they play in the Church.
It’s no different north of the Mexico-US border. Yet so many parishes and not a few dioceses have yet to make the firm commitment. To start with, it is about fostering that relationship with the Master:
We look to Jesus, the Master who personally formed his apostles and disciples. Christ gives us the method: “Come and see” (Jn 1:39), I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14:6).
The bishops make sure we know this isn’t about a self-actualization program. The whole point of discipleship is to make them out of the raw materials of the believers in our lives:
With Him we can develop the potentialities in people and form missionary disciples. With enduring patience and wisdom, Jesus invited all to follow Him. He led those who agreed to follow him into the mystery of the Kingdom of God, and after his death and resurrection, he sent them to preach the Good News in the power of his Spirit. His style becomes emblematic for those doing formation, and takes on special relevance when we think of the patient work of formation that the Church must undertake in the new sociocultural context of Latin America.
Style: this is key. Exactly what was the style of Jesus in his life? Notice a few things in the Gospels. Mainly, he was personal. While he did preach to the masses, he made the biggest impact personally calling people–fishermen and others, women and men both. Even children.
277. The formative itinerary of the follower of Jesus sinks its roots down into the dynamic nature of the person and in the personal invitation of Jesus Christ, who calls his own by name, and they follow him because they know his voice. The Lord awakened the deep aspirations of his disciples and drew them to himself, full of astonishment. Following him is fruit of a fascination that responds to the desire for human fulfillment and to the yearning for full life. A disciple is someone who is passionate for Christ, and recognizes him as the master leading and accompanying him.
For any Christian who aspires to calling disciples, the relevant questions:
- How do we communicate with the voice of Jesus, and not just our interpretation of his message?
- Are we attentive to the deep aspirations of the people we meet, and not just the surface appearances?
- Do we experience enough astonishment, fascination, and passion about our faith to pass it on?
- Do we recognize we are not alone–that we are accompanied by the Lord?
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.