The Good Disciple – Your Catholic Weekly Reflection from CMMB
No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues his Sermon on the Plain using a series of parables to teach how to be a good disciple: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?”; “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?” “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.” (Luke 6:39-43)
These parables introduce a challenge for anyone who wants to follow Christ’s example: look inward first. This is because at the heart of service is an openness to learn and grow. One of our international volunteers serving at Our Lady of Lourdes Mission Hospital in Mutomo, Kenya, Dr. Jose Garcia, shares how this is playing out in his life:
The excitement of the first days has vanished, and with it my “developed world” routines and habits. Today, I’m one of the local staff at the Mutomo Mission Hospital. The experience of being a volunteer, as Jesus and Saint Teresa teach, is not how people imagine it. People always tell me, “You’re going to be such an asset in the field,” or “You can teach so many good skills.” But not a single soul mentioned how much I would need to let go of—how much you have to detach from the self you were before in order to understand and accept the new; how many times you have to ask before suggesting; how much you have to stop talking and just listen.
These challenges are part of my life here. Day after day, you are less and less the person you arrived as. You change until you are transformed into someone new. It was distressing when I first felt that fear—the fear of uncertainty, of not understanding or trusting in this process of letting go of the perceptions I had of myself.
Finding myself in this vulnerable state has allowed me to truly ignite change here in Mutomo. Because it wasn’t until I walked away from my own idea of “what the world should be” that I understood what the world is actually like for this community.
“I have learned that in order to inspire I need to understand people from the inside out.” —Dr. José
Today, I’m able to better understand patients. I’m able to greet them in their own language, and know how to approach their relatives in a culturally proper way. Most importantly, I have come to understand how to be a companion during grieving. I’ve learned how to talk with young locals, share with them their passion for things like football when we come together, after the work day is done. I have truly learned that in order to inspire, I need to understand people from the inside out.
Dr. José’s teachers are the people he is serving, and the health professionals he is serving alongside of. Their lessons are delivered through beautiful yet simple interactions, conversations, and smiles. José is not only becoming a better doctor, but also a better ‘disciple.’
St. Francis once said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” This is what it means to be a good disciple. To preach through actions to demonstrate goodness, kindness, and compassion in the things we do.
As we approach the season of Lent, let us use this time of repentance, prayer, and fasting to look within and see how we can be better disciples.
In grace and peace,
CMMB/Healthier Lives Worldwide
Today’s reflection was inspired by Loyola Press.