In his gospel St. John describes Christ’s first appearance after his resurrection to his disciples.  (Jo. 20: 19-33) “In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews.  Jesus came and stood among them.  He said, ‘Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me so I am sending you.”

At that point the redemptive work of Jesus was complete.  When he breathed his spirit on the apostles he finished what he had come to do. His great redemptive work was complete.  The world was profoundly changed and renewed.

But at that point who knew it?  Only a handful of Jews.  The task of carrying that  good news to the world Jesus left to his first disciples.  That task extends to all those down through the ages who truly want to be followers of Jesus.

What  are the qualities of a true disciple?   It seems the most fundamental quality of a true disciple is good will, an authentic desire to follow Christ, whatever the costs.

An illustration will help.  In his novel, The Man Who Was Thursday, G.K. Chesterton describes an interesting interview between the leader of a secret society and a candidate proposed for membership.  The dialogue runs like this.  “Are you the new recruit?” asks the invisible chief, who seems  to have heard all about the candidate.  “All right, you are engaged.”  Syme, the candidate, seemed quite swept off his feet.  He made a feeble response.   “I really have no experi-ence,” he began.  “No one has any experience,” said the interviewer, “of the battle of Armageddon.”  “But I am really unfit.”  “You are willing, that is enough,” said the unknown.  “Well, really, said Syme, “I don’t know any profession of which mere willingness is the final test.”  “I do,” said the other, “martyrs.  I am condemning you to death.  Good Day!”

The point of the story is that in the last analysis it seems willingness is the real test for the hardest callings.   That is true of discipleship.  That willingness, is to be confirmed by fidelity.  It is relatively easy to show good will when things are going well.  The real challenge is to be consistent in manifesting one’s commitment in the circumstances of daily life.