Sunday, August 25, 2013

Discipline (2013-08-25)

This is my homily for Sunday August 25, 2013.  I am a Catholic chaplain at  Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU, Teaneck),   FDU Newman Catholic Association,  New Jersey City University (NJCU) in Jersey City.  At FDU, Sunday Evening Mass resumes,  August 25, 2013 @ 5:00 pm at  FDU Chapel, 842 River Road, Teaneck. 

READINGS: ••• Isaiah 66:18-21 ••• Psalm 117 •• Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13 ••• + Luke 13:22-30 •••
 [__01__]    Discipline.

Discipline is a theme in the Letter to the Hebrews and in the Book of the Gospel of Luke this Sunday.

This is a word calling to mind - drill instructors, coaches with whistles …or teachers with syllabi and homework for the Fall semester.

Or, perhaps, simply, a rigorous schedule.

These are not our favorite things …or at at least we perceive them as unpleasant

 [__02__]  In the letter to the Hebrews, we are reminded, however, to avoid the skepticism and dread and fear that often accompany discipline.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews suggests that discipline can bring peace, tranquility.

Is this not our expectation and our hope as we anticipate any new commitment or project?  

That …
·        ___ A team, having practiced, is at peace – on the soccer field or basketball court … is at peace at Fairleigh Dickinson or MetLife Stadium.
_     _____   A student, having studied is calm and collected before the SAT or MCAT or midterm.

Discipline helps us to hear and respond to the bell at the beginning of class …or to the voice of conscience inside each of us.

To the Holy Spirit speaking to us.

[__03_]  In the Gospel, our Lord also speaks of discipline.  He speaks of our mental faculties and our moral character being molded, formed, refined by our passage through the “narrow gate”. (cf. Luke 13:24)

The narrow gate is a way of discipline, a method for our lives.

Certainly, we apply this to material things, to physical endeavors, to the desire to make the team, to save money, to seek a promotion.

Jesus is inviting us to practice our faith with discipline as well, saying to his disciples and to us:

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many I tell you will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”  (Luke 13:24)

[__03.01_]    Discipline invites us to practice our faith.

For example, to forgive someone. We have to be honest about how we may have been hurt or harmed.

We may have a very distinct memory of what happened.

[__04__]   Discipline, sometimes, seems only to be a system of rewards and penalties.

We – myself included - are suddenly more disciplined when there is a clear reward to be seized or penalty to be avoided.

We might say that the crowd -- about whom we read a narration by Jesus in his parable --- has a similar attitude toward discipline:

They are shouting to Jesus, to gain entry at the gate, at the “narrow gate”,  saying, “we followed the syllabus, we did our homework, we went to practice …or in the words of the Gospel…. We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.”  (Luke 13:28).

In other words, we did what we were told. And, we did what others could see.

But, Jesus is saying out our discipline – our following of the commandments – not based on the service which others can see ..or the actions which produce results.

Rather , the Lord is asking us – does our discipline – our following of the commandments really bring us peace?

Peace in our relationships to ourselves, to others, to God.

Does the discipline bring us closer to the person from whom we receive instruction or direction?

This is the great challenge for a young person and for all of us at any age.

For example, we are reminded – in the Commandments – to honor our father and our mother.

From the time we are very young, they are the ones from whom we learn a method, a sense of order, right and wrong. We receive discipline.  However, we learn to love them too.

Yet, we are called to love and honor them too.

And, through the Gospel – our relationship to our Lord – we are also learning to accept his yoke, his burden, his discipline and to grow in love for our Savior and Lord.

He may, at times, ask us to do what we had not planned ourselves.


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