The Diocese of Venice in Florida congratulates Ava Irion, 8th grader St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers for taking 1st Place (ESSAY) in the Disciple of Christ Diocese of Venice 35th Anniversary Student Showcase! This was chosen by a select committee out of 106 submission based on the content and its closeness to relating to the theme: “What does it mean to be a Disciple of Christ.” The complete essay is here:
By Ava Irion, 8th grade, St. Francis Xavier Catholic School
There are many ways in which a person can be a disciple of Christ. If someone is a disciple of Christ, he or she respects and loves all humankind no matter the circumstance. Even more importantly, a disciple of Christ loves God more than their possessions and even more than their family. For example, John 8:31 states that, “A disciple loves others as Jesus has loved him.” By following the Ten Commandments, by helping others in everyday life, and by evangelizing, anyone can become a wonderful disciple of Christ. This is not an easy task, but someone who is a true disciple will surrender everything for God. The following will focus on traits that true disciples display: kindness, acceptance, and character.
To begin, kindness is one of the prime traits that someone needs in order to be a discipline of Christ and to live the way Jesus did. Kindness was displayed by Jesus in many ways throughout his life. He did this by healing, caring, and showing mercy for others. He never judged nor thought that he was better than others. Instead, he helped those who were different. No matter who they were or where they came from, Jesus showed kindness to everyone he came across. Some might think that this would be easy to do, however Jesus even showed immense kindness toward his enemies. Matthew 5:44 explains, “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Jesus followed these words and was kind to those who persecuted him and to those who cursed him. So the challenge is to live and act the way that Jesus did in his life. If we use kindness towards our neighbors, loved ones, and enemies more often in our everyday lives, we will be closer to living as a disciple of Christ.
Next, Jesus showed acceptance to others in his life. Acceptance of those who may look or act differently is very hard to do. However, all people need to be treated with human dignity and respect. Jesus showed acceptance many times in the Bible. One example is in Matthew 8:14 when Jesus touched the untouchable. Back in the time of Jesus, people who were visibly ill were outcasts. They were the “scraps” of the society. However, Jesus still loved them very much. In Matthew 8:14, a leprous man approached Jesus as he was walking up a mountain side. The man begged Jesus to be healed. Jesus broke all of the laws and boundaries as he walked up to the leper man and touched him. In one small, single touch, the leper was healed and was free to live the rest of his life. The man was cast out from society because of his differences but Jesus accepted him. Jesus was the only one who still saw this man as a human and not as some sort of monster. This acceptance from Jesus changed the man’s life. Jesus chose to see him as a real person and not as a plague. This enabled the man to be cured. Acceptance was powerful and life-changing, as it can be in each person’s daily life.
Finally, character is a trait that can turn an ordinary person into someone who loves Jesus with all of their heart, mind, and soul. Character can mean that someone is a role model, and that this person cares for others. Parents are a great example of this, as they are role models to their children. Parents can teach lifelong lessons such as, “Treat others how you want to be treated.” Parents model behavior for their children to learn and to act upon as the children grow into adults. Parents show their children how to treat others with respect. No matter what life throws at someone, that person can look to the character of their parents and think about what they would do in that situation. Another role model with strong character is Jesus. Jesus displayed character by showing forgiveness, love, and compassion. To act like Jesus means to not hold a grudge, to never wish harm to anyone, and to never try to one up someone to feel superior. Jesus forgave the people that killed him. Forgiveness in today’s world might not have to be that extreme, but one should never hold a grudge and should learn to love those who hurt them. The love of Jesus is the most radiant and powerful love ever. People need to love as he does. They need to love their neighbors and love him, with all of their hearts, minds, and souls. Finally, Jesus always had compassion for everyone he came across. Instead of worrying for himself, he thought of others and how he could help them. If humans learn from their parents and demonstrate the great character of Jesus, anyone can become a disciple of Christ.
Overall, a disciple of Christ needs to have the traits of kindness, acceptance, and character. If someone can demonstrate these virtues to others the way that Jesus did, they are becoming a disciple of Christ. The core of being a disciple of Christ is interesting and complex, but, ultimately, it means living like Jesus did. If people truly love Jesus and act with kindness, acceptance, and character, they can be one of the strongest and most amazing disciples of Christ. How will you use these traits to become a disciple of Christ?
To see more about the contest and the overall Disciple of Christ campaign, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/become-a-disciple-of-christ/.