Over the centuries, various men and women have observed how becoming a disciple is a process. Even the scriptures make that clear. St John shows us how the man born blind hears about Jesus, encounters Jesus, grows in understanding and admiration, and at the end of the journey becomes a follower. The Samaritan Woman at the Well provides another example, moving from a chance encounter, to a conversation, to eventually evangelizing her town. Doug Shaup did great work investigating this process in our own day; Sherry Weddell lays it out well in Forming Intentional Disciples. Even using the term ‘thresholds’ is a helpful insight. Two weeks ago in the homily (now on line), I covered the first three thresholds. Let me review, and finish the story. The first threshold is Trust. The man and the woman whose stories St. John told were able to trust in Jesus in the flesh. For people today, the first threshold is some positive experience connected to Jesus, the church, a friend, family member or something Christian. The bridge of trust is essential, and if we want to share the Good News, learning to build that bridge of trust is crucial. Once trust is established, it is possible for a person to cross that threshold to approach the next: Curiosity. Curiosity can begin by being intrigued about what Jesus means to others: one’s parents, a teacher, a friend, coworker, a fellow volunteer, even a community. Because of trust, one feels it is safe to ask questions, to learn more. Who is this Jesus? What did he do? What did he teach? I want to know more. The more challenging threshold is Openness. Learning things about Jesus is one thing; hopefully we learn new things all the time. Crossing the threshold of openness means I am willing to consider personal and spiritual change. I’m willing to contemplate that this journey could change me, and I am not afraid of that possibility. Change is always a challenge. This is a significant threshold to cross. The next step is Spiritual Seeking. Weddell comes up with a wonderful expression for this phase in the journey, ‘dating with a purpose’. Is Christ someone to whom I am ready to make a commitment? This threshold requires a leap from passively ‘checking it out’, to active developing a relationship with the Lord. If God is opening doors in the 1st three thresholds, this threshold requires actively going through the open door. Lastly, one arrives at Intentional Discipleship. Like the fishermen in the Gospel, one is ready to leave the boat behind, become a disciple, and follow Jesus as a member of the community he brings together, reorient priorities, reorienting our life. Like other human progressions, say the steps of grieving, or the twelve steps, life includes moving back and forth at times, retracing steps, moving forward again. Where are you in this schema? Where is the Lord calling you to move? Let’s all keep moving forward! Peace, Fr. Bob

Monday, July 13, 2015