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The nature of discipleship Essay

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Explain what a study of St. Mark’s Gospel can tell Christians about the nature of discipleship

There is a great variety of things that Mark’s Gospel can teach us about discipleship and its nature, the fundamental core of being a disciple. It tells us what, when, where and how to do things in a Christian manner, and how we can respond to varying situations through simple stories and parables. It gives us a basis for our beliefs, practices, church organisation and the authority of certain figures.

When Jesus first calls the twelve it gives us an insight into the kind of people disciples must be: anyone and the more varied the better. Jesus chooses fishermen, tax collectors, and a zealot/terrorist amongst other people. Any one can be a disciple.

These original disciples were told to give up everything to follow Jesus in poverty (giving us one of the central beliefs of our religious orders: a vow of POVERTY must be taken.) These examples of poverty are seen in “The Rich Young Man” (Mark v10:17-31), where the disciples are puzzled as to Jesus telling them that:

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“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Mark v10:25)

In these times, it was seen as a sign of the favour of God to have riches and many personal possessions. The disciples and Jesus were mostly devout Jews: that is why this story is so radical.

In this vow of poverty they were to have; no bread, no money, no beggar’s bag, no extra clothing.

Another fundamental part of our faith: they were to accept any hospitality that came their way, and make no fuss if they were not welcome. Some of our sacraments are formed from what Jesus told them. They were to;

Preach (Priesthood, The Sacrament of Holy Orders.), drive out demons (Not so much a Sacrament but a function of the Church: Exorcism. Exorcism is an important part of the Sacrament of Baptism.), anoint the sick. (Sacrament of the Sick.), heal people (As above.)

Also, when people chose to follow Jesus, they became members of a new family, which is what happens to Christians when they are baptised: they become part of God’s Family. I can support this claim with the quote:

“Whoever does what God wants him to do is my brother, my sister, my mother.” (Mark v3:33)

The role of the disciple continues into our teachings and beliefs, right down to the things lay people in parish are called to do; companionship (being there for others in need or trouble), learning from, and following Jesus’ teachings (in the Gospel and their applications to our everyday lives), setting examples of the good of Christianity, learning from mistakes (showing that Christians are still human; they do make mistakes! But that they learn and grow better from them.), sharing in the healing and preaching of the ministry (as a eucharistic minister, for example), taking the Gospel to others (the sick, the elderly etc.), commitment to God and the Christian faith (even when it seems hard or difficult: as seen in “The Rich Young Man”; there is a reward!)

These are all enviable qualities that we and the disciples themselves were called to have.

The teachings of Jesus that were impressed upon his disciples are still relevant today; two thousand years on. This is through either their timeless quality of perfection through Jesus’ teachings, and maybe more importantly, their flourishing growth into the principles, the basis and the tenets of the Christian faith; our Christian Faith.

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