Friday, May 18, 2012

Who Do You Sit at the Feet of?

A couple of nights ago, I was helping at an ecumenical program at church.  I was running some of the sound and video equipment, and because of its location, I ended up sitting on the floor next to it so that I could easily start and stop things without being conspicuous.  I sat with my back up against the partition in front of the first pew, and no one could even see me except the people who moved up into the sanctuary to speak.  It was certainly the first time that I have sat through a service on the floor, but it worked.

At one point, my pastor, who had been asked to give the main address, got up to speak.  I was not in his direct line of sight, but I was sitting on the floor not too far from his feet.  As he gave a great talk on change, and discerning God's will, and letting Christ direct the paths of your life, I was struck that I probably looked like a little kid, sitting at my teacher's feet, soaking up his wisdom.

And then I remembered this line by St. Paul~

"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel..." ~Acts 22:3

At the feet of.  An expression commonly used to describe the teaching style of the masters of the time.  To be educated literally while sitting at the feet of the teacher, hanging on their every word.

I have heard discipleship described that way.  You sit at the feet of the one you are the disciple of.  You listen to their words, model their actions, look to them for guidance.

There are so many that I have had the privilege of sitting at their feet.  Family, friends, teachers, the Saints, authors, pastors, missionaries.  It makes me picture the Sermon of the Mount.

The spot where I was sitting on the floor during the service is actually my favorite place to pray when the church is empty.  On the floor, close to the sanctuary, looking up at the Tabernacle, it helps me remember who I am, and who God is.  I am sitting at His feet, soaking up every word.

I have also heard discipleship defined as literally meaning "to be covered in the dust of." Meaning that as a disciple, you follow the person so closely that the dust raised up by their feet covers you before it can fall back to the ground.  That is some serious closeness.

So this brings up some good questions to ponder.  Who do I sit at the feet of?  Who do I follow closely enough that I am covered in their dust?  It also makes me wonder if I am the kind of person attracting people to a life of discipleship.  Are the things that I say and do personifying Christ?  Should others "sit at my feet" or "be covered in my dust"?

“It is part of your vocation to shout the Gospel from the rooftops, not by your words, but by your life.” ~Blessed Charles De Foucauld

Time for a gut-check.  As Christians, we are always put in a position to be a witness to others.  You cannot turn off that role with one group of people and on with another.  Every word and action shows others what the Body of Christ looks like, and gives them an example to either emulate or avoid.

“The torch of our faith has been given to us not to delight our eyes but to enkindle the torches of our fellow men.” ~Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

So who can we look to to help us?  I think that Mary had a good thing going.  While Christ would have spent his first few years sitting on her lap, I like to think that in the 30 years that Mary and Jesus shared a home, Mary spent a whole lot of quality time learning from her Son.  She would have heard his words.  She would have witnessed his actions.  She learned.  She modeled.  And she then taught, and still teaches us today.

"Do whatever he tells you..." ~John 2:5

That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?  A good disciple of Christ does whatever He wills for them, and encourages others to do the same.  Sounds like a plan to me.

Here is a link to a youth group lesson highlighting Mary and discipleship:


  1. Thank you for your beautiful words. Yes, time for a gut check. You put Mary in such beautiful and accurate perspective. She has shown us the way and we should do what ever He tells us. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for your comment! It made me go back and reread this post, which was a great reminder! :)

  2. I love perusing through your blog. They are a great help to me in the classroom, but also great inspiration. I apologize for seeming ignorant, but in the above link there are references for Mary and discipleship in YouCat. What is YouCat?

    1. Hi Diana! The YouCat stands for Youth Catechism. It is a book that was published and widely distributed at one of the last World Youth Days in many many languages. It takes the content of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and rewrites it in Q & A format, which is really accessible for teens. You can read more about it here: YouCatWebsite

    2. And thank you for your kind words! I'm glad the blog has been a help!