Saturday, August 25, 2007

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

21st Suday in Ordinary Time
August 26, 2007

Isaiah 66:18-21
Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13
Luke 13:22-30

My son, 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.”

A lot of times, when people hear the word, “discipline” connected with the son of a Father, they often think of the word punishment. In other words, when a kid is going to get some discipline from his dad he may be thinking of what his mother said to him after some unfortunate childish misdeed - like "just wait till your father gets home." And we all know what that means.

I am going to concede to you that this understanding is an unfortunate misunderstanding both of the positive role of a parent and a misunderstanding of the positive role of God in our lives.

The word discipline is related to a more religious word that we often use – disciple. To disciple is understood much more like the verb “to teach.”

This captures much better the positive role of a mother or father who teaches her children how to grow up to become good human beings. In like manner this scripture describes to us the positive role of our Heavenly Father who loves us and who wants to teach us the way of holiness and perfection.

Of course, if you are going to be taught, then you have to want to learn. Nothing worse than a student who doesn’t want to learn.

Do you want to learn from God? Then strive for it.

First, you can’t really learn something unless you really want to. If you decide that you don’t want to be discipled by the Lord, then you will live without it. Lots of people do. But if you decide that you want to be discipled by Jesus in the way of perfection. And you decide to do it every day. Then you will truly become his disciple. This is why Jesus said that his disciples would have to forsake everything in order to follow him. In other words, we have to become totally open to learning from Jesus – to becoming his disciple – to being disciplined by him. But you won’t learn from him unless you decide that you want to learn. So first, you must decide that you want to learn from Jesus more than anything else.

Second, you must listen. Listening with an open heart to Jesus means that you take his teaching seriously. It means that you decide to apply it to every aspect of your life. You must listen to the teachings of the gospel and to the teachings of the Church – and be obedient to those teachings. Don’t get caught in the bind of picking and choosing what teachings you like and rejecting those you don’t like. The bible calls this "double mindedness". Jesus said it this way. "You can’t serve God and mammon at the same time." In the book of Numbers when Joshua began his leadership of the Israelites into the promised land he made this declaration. "Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." You must decide to truly listen to the teachings of Jesus and take them to heart.

Third, you must expect the best. Jesus described his discipline in these words. ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Hebrews describes the results of discipleship in these words. It brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” Your drooping hands will be strengthened and your path will become clear and straight. What is lame will be healed. St. Paul described it this way when he wrote, "the Lord works everything out for good for those who love the Lord." In other words, you can expect the best, most positive results when you choose to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus. He will not lead you wrong. You can expect the very best from him.

The Lord loves you. And because he loves you he calls you to be his disciple. With all your heart, learn from him. And he will fulfill the joy of your heart.

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