Weekly Reflection • How do you define discipleship?

Listen to the audio version of the reflection here or read below.

Welcome to our Monday morning reflection from St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne. My name is Heather Patacca. I am the Archdeacon of Melbourne, and Canon Precentor of the Cathedral. It is my pleasure to join with you in prayer, reflection and listening to God’s word this morning.

Let us pray.

God’s Love has been poured into our hearts,
By the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

The Canticle: A Song of God’s Marvellous Acts

I will sing a new him to my God:
O Lord you are great and marvellous,
You are marvellous in your strength, invincible.
Let the whole creation serve you:
For you spoke and all things came to be;
You sent out your spirit and it formed them:
No one can resist your voice.
Mountains and sees a stirred to the depths:
Rocks melt like wax at your presence;
But to those who Revere you:
You still show mercy.

Judith 16. 13–15

The night has passed and the day lies open before us;
Let us pray with one heart and mind.

As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you; now and forever. Amen.

Psalm 67

1 Let God be gracious to us and bless us:
and make his face shine upon us,
2 That your ways may be known on earth:
your liberating power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God:
let all the peoples praise you.
4 Let the nations be glad and sing:
for you judge the peoples with integrity,
and govern the nations upon earth.
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God:
let all the peoples praise you.
6 Then the earth will yield its fruitfulness:
and God, our God, will bless us.
7 God shall bless us:
and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

Reading: Matthew 28.16-20

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’


How do you define discipleship? Perhaps you might like to take a few moments now to reflect on that, and if you’re listening to this reflection rather than reading it, hit the pause button.

In our Bible study on Sunday morning, we asked ourselves that question. Our answers included: following Jesus; living for Jesus; knowing Jesus; acting and speaking for him; learning by listening, by obedience, and through fellowship; taking God’s love to others; life-long learning; following by choice; and thinking through the cost to us to follow Jesus.

Our gospel reading at our Sunday morning services is known also as the great commission. At the very end of Matthew’s gospel, we hear the last words Matthew records Jesus saying to his disciples, words that instruct them to go and continue the ministry that he has modelled to them, and to make disciples, not just of the people of Israel, but of all nations. These instructions have at their heart themes that Matthew has developed throughout his gospel account of Jesus‘s life: that Jesus is unique authority as gods only son demands the worship of his followers; that the discipleship Jesus calls us to transcends ethnic, gender and religious boundaries; that Jesus is concerned that all people everywhere become part of his kingdom: but Jesus calls his people to be obedient from the inside out and display the righteousness of God; and that Jesus promises to always be with us.

Now those of us who gathered at our weekly Bible study were familiar with these ideas, and yet the strength of command that Jesus gives those who follow him demands that we take very seriously our role in enabling others to hear Jesus call on their lives. That can be really hard. You might like to pause again now and consider in what ways do you find it challenging to encourage others to also follow Jesus? Some of the answers we came up with were dealing with the disappointment that those who are not Christians often feel about the church in response to the very serious failings they see in the church’s behaviour. Some of us identified the difficulty of speaking to those who have been evangelised by those who are Bible bashers. We also reflected on how thinking deeply of a Christian response to serious issues in our society that is not simplistic requires enormous amounts of work and wisdom. Some of us noted they would like very much to be able to emulate Jesus in his practice of responding to a question with another question, one which helped to enable others to think deeply and in a slightly different track to the one that they are currently on.

Our discipleship series continues next week as the Dean preaches on fishing. I hope that you can join us then.

The Collect of the Day

Let us pray.

Living God, whose Son Jesus fed the hungry with the bread of his life and the word of his kingdom: renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us with your true and living bread, Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Morning Collect

Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed: guide and strengthen us by your spirit, that we may give ourselves to your service, and live this day in life to one another and to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Let us praise the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but a spirit of power and of love and of self discipline. May we rekindle the gift of God within us. Amen.

See 2 Timothy 1.6-7