By GRETCHEN KEISER, Staff Writer | Published June 27, 2014
COLLEGE PARK—How did someone become a disciple of a great rabbi 2,000 years ago?
Jeff Cavins asked the question at the Eucharistic Congress because of its theme, “Go and make disciples” from Matthew’s Gospel.
The creator of dynamic Scripture studies aimed at touching the hearts of people, Cavins said he has made 44 trips to the Holy Land to inform his own faith life and to deepen his understanding of Scripture as a teacher and believer. He has spent years developing a Scripture teaching program called “The Great Adventure,” which helps people learn and understand the chronology of sacred Scripture in a way that also imports the message of salvation and the Gospel to hearers.
In the time of Jesus, Cavins said, children learned the Hebrew alphabet until the age of 10 and then from the age of 10 to 14 went more deeply in their study of the prophets, the Torah, the oral tradition and the sacred Scripture. Beyond that point, only a young person displaying giftedness would be invited by a rabbi to become a “disciple.”
The invitation of Jesus to “come, follow me,” was the way a rabbi at that time asked a person to become a disciple. For the rabbi, Cavins said, it meant, “I think you can become like me.”
“To take the yoke of a rabbi means to take on their worldview,” Cavins said.
He offered his belief that “we have a whole bunch of people in the United States, of Catholics who have not taken on the worldview of Jesus.”
Many other worldviews are available today, he said. “Oprah makes disciples all the time,” Cavins said. “I don’t share the worldview of Oprah. We don’t see things the same way.”
In order to not follow other worldviews that saturate the culture, it is necessary to have a close and constant relationship with Jesus.
“Jesus has asked me to follow him and become his disciple. The only way I can be like him is to follow him on a daily basis,” he said.
The director of the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute in St. Paul, Minnesota, Cavins acknowledged that he, as much as anyone else, can fall into the trap of being “a fan of Jesus, not a follower of Christ.”
“We make a mistake of making our faith studying the faith. … Your faith becomes your hobby rather than your passion,” he said.
“Are you an enthusiastic admirer or a disciple of the King of kings and the Lord of lords?” he asked.
He spoke of the difference between admiring Christ and having “that moment to moment idea that is gripping my life, listening for his voice,” praying daily with Scripture and seeking to hear God’s guidance, and at the end of the day, doing a prayerful reflection, “looking at my day, asking ‘how did I do?’”
“This is what we have to capture,” Cavins said.
“One day we will rise up and we will make disciples,” he said.
He asked the audience to imagine meeting Jesus today at a coffee shop. “If he looked you square in the eyes and said your name, ‘Come, follow me,’ and you just looked at him. What would you say to him? Would you say yes? … If you said yes, would tomorrow look any different than yesterday?”
Becoming a disciple is going to mean a dramatic change, Cavins said, adding, “I don’t think Peter ever got up in the morning and said, ‘Oh, I have to follow God again today?’”
“We’re not going to pass this on if we are not living it,” he said.