“We can all see God in exceptional things, but it requires the culture of spiritual discipline to see God in every detail.” ~ Oswald Chambers
Today’s 1st Reading (Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15) deals directly with the discipline of...well . . . discipline.
“Do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges” our author implores and instructs us in what was perhaps the earliest recorded lesson in “tough love” courtesy of a just and expectant God who longs to form us In the ways that are divine and eternal. Discipline is of course vital to this task.
Saint Paul kicks this letter off reminding the Hebrews that in their struggle against sin, injustice and secularism (yes it permeated society greatly back then as well) that they have yet to be called to a level of resistance that would culminate in blood shed.
This is something to reflect upon on this the day we celebrate the Feast of Saint Paul Miki, a Roman Catholic Japanese Jesuit seminarian, martyr and saint, one of Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan who did in fact shed their blood and offer their lives in defense of the truth as taught to us by Jesus, a truth that is oftentimes unpopular and always requires discipline of mind, heart, body and soul. Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr and one of the seven women, who, along with our Blessed Mother, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Her discipline was rooted in a courageous love of Jesus, to whom she declared herself his bride.
Paul goes on to speak of discipline through the prism of the earthly father/son relationship, pointing out that the pain encountered as a result of it quickly morphs into joy, for it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to all those who are trained in it.
The closing words of this passage are weighty as well, for it is here that Saint Paul urges the Hebrews to “strive for peace with everyone,
and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.”
Seeking peace in lieu of seeking victory, which of course requires a humility of heart and a willingness to forgive seventy times seven, requires enormous discipline, especially in a world where those with the largest Twitter following merely shout down, degrade and humiliate their foes into submission. Spreading holiness in a world which looks down its proverbial nose at this believed to be weak and antiquated virtue, requires enormous discipline. Uprooting and sweeping clear from our hearts all feelings of bitterness, revenge, grudges, and ill-will requires enormous discipline.
Jesus lived a life steeped in discipline so there’s our earthly example, and the divine gifts of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, patience and humility just to name a few, are gifts formed out of the virtue of discipline. Pray for discipline. Seek to practice it in all that you do.
For if you do, it will be yours.
“Oh my Jesus you have said ‘Truly I say to you, ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.’ Behold, I knock, I seek and I ask for the gift of discipline in all that I do. So that I may serve you better.” ~ Amen