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Step Two - Be a Disciple

Some people fish for fun, others for nourishment, and some for both. People read for the same reasons. What do you do?


If we really believe that only constant interaction with Jesus can save our lives on earth from going flat, we need to look at how nourishing our interaction with Him really is. What is the last new insight into life you got from thinking about his words? His example? How many new ideals have you embraced in the past year? What new goals have you set for yourself because you were inspired by something Jesus said or did? By something he said to you? Or did for you? Do you experience him as an exciting influence in your life?


Before Jesus filled the nets for Peter and his companions, they had to work. Everything began when Peter said, "I am going fishing," and the others said, "We will go with you." If we want Jesus to fill our lives with inspiration and excitement, new goals and experiences, we have to "go fishing" in his words, in the Scripture, in the lives of the Christian witnesses through whom he has expressed himself in every time and culture as he is expressing himself today in ours. Jesus isn’t going to fill our nets unless we spread them. We start being his disciples when we decide to put some time and energy into it.

This story in the Gospels shows us four things we need to do to be disciples.


First, we have to "go fishing"; that is, start reading the Bible and reflecting on what you read; go to religious formation sessions, Bible studies, retreats, discussion groups. We have to take time from something else (priorities are called into question here) and give it to spiritual formation, to reading Scripture and other books, to reflection and prayer.

Secondly, we have to cast the net "to the right side of the boat." We have to fish in the right place. In St. Luke’s version of this story (5:1-11) Jesus tells Peter to "put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." The right place to go for discipleship is the place that increases our knowledge, deepens our understanding, challenges us to make decisions and to act. There are many devotional practices in the Church which do not do this. They are good; they give us encouragement; they provide us with a structure for presenting our needs and petitions to God, but we should not confuse them with discipleship. To be disciples we need to "put out into the deep water."

And we have to keep at it. The disciples fished all night before Jesus came to them. In Luke Peter says, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so ["on the strength of your word" Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1968, 44:58], I will let down the nets." Sometimes our reading or someone’s input to us is immediately rewarding. But we have to keep fishing whether it is or not, to persevere by faith and with hope based on faith: on the strength of Christ’s promises to open his mind and heart to us. He will fill our nets, but he will choose the time. We have to keep fishing.

What helps us keep at it is community. Very few children learn by themselves; we send them to school, where they will learn with others. Both to start and to persevere as disciples of Jesus most of us need the support of other persons. Someone has to take the initiative: it was Peter who started things off by saying, "I am going fishing." But nothing would have happened if the others had not decided, "We will go with you." In a parish the invitation to "go fishing" in the word of God may come from the pastor and staff; or it may come from the initiative of some member who decides to start a home study group. But no Bible study, discussion group, retreat or formation program can be launched or stay afloat unless other people decide to participate.

To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to lead a life characterized by reflection on his message.




  • Do you think of yourself more as a follower of Jesus or more as a student of his? What is the difference?


  • Do you think of Jesus more as someone who has saved you or who is saving you? If he is saving you now, how do you think he is doing it? How are you cooperating with him in his efforts to save you?


  • How do you interact with Jesus as Teacher? Is your prayer more of a learning experience or more just asking for help? How could you make it more of a learning experience?


  • Do you think Jesus has anything to teach you that would make your family life more satisfying? Your social life? Your marriage? Your work? Your school life? What could you do to let him teach you? Realistically, how much time are you willing to give to this each day?


PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS: Try some of these to get started.


  • Get a Bible that is readable and that you can make notes in, put a pen in it and put it on your pillow. Decide to read one line every night before you go to sleep.


  • Read the Sunday readings before you go to Mass. 


  • Get the Bible on tape to listen to in your car.


  • Read the Vatican II document Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei verbum). It can be found in some Catholic Bibles.


  • Read the Bible every day with your spouse and kids. Discuss the readings around the dinner table.


  • Take one of the epistles and sit down and read it as a letter written to you.


  • Anytime you read scripture ask questions about what you read and think about them from time to time during your day.


  • Get a Bible commentary to help you understand the readings. Set aside a place to study the scriptures. Keep your Bible and reference materials there. Make sure you are awake and alert while you study.




To help you grow with Step 2 of the Immersed in Christ plan, we recommend to you Fr. Knight's (see Book Store) on Discipleship:


  • His Way: Chapters Three and Four: Adult prayer

  • Reaching Jesus: Step Two: The Choice to be a Disciple

  • The Five Promises of Baptism: “The Second Promise: Enlightenment”

  • Five Steps to the Father: “Phrase, Phase Two: Hallowed be thy Name: Commitment

  • Nuts and Bolts of Daily Spirituality, Chapter Two: “Put the Bible on Your Pillow”

  • Living the Sacraments: Chapters Three to Five: Reconciliation and Spiritual Growth

  • Experiencing the Mass: The Second Moment of Mystery: “The Liturgy of the Word”

  • A Fresh Look at Confession: Chapter Two: “The Sacrament of the Examined Life”

  • Mary in an Adult Church: Chapter Two: The Virgin Birth

  • A Change Within (from the Matthew Series): whole book

  • Make Me a Sabbath of Your Heart (from the Matthew Series): whole book

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