June 1, 2014 – Seventh Sunday of Easter
There is a remarkable sentence in today’s second reading from Peter’s First Letter. St. Peter tells those to whom he is writing, “But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed, but glorify God because of the name.” (1 Pt 4: 16) Were you aware that there are only three instances in the entire New Testament (the complete Bible for that matter) that the followers of Jesus are called “Christians?”
To us, who may have always considered ourselves “Christians,” that might seem surprising. The followers of Jesus were merely called “disciples” until almost 50 years after His Crucifixion and Resurrection. That is essential for us to understand and to know as we consider stewardship as a way of life. That is, of course, what Jesus has called us to — discipleship. The title of the United States Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Stewardship is Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response. Are we disciples? Are we willing to be disciples, or are we just comfortable being considered Christians?
Discipleship seems to require more from us — more commitment, more willingness to be involved, more readiness to perhaps “suffer” or sacrifice. That is what it actually means to be a Christian. That is what Jesus has called us to.