4th Week of Ordinary Time
Feb. 4, 2015
Heb 12: 4-7, 11-15
Dominican and Franciscan Nuns
Wartburg, Mt. Vernon
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him” (Heb 12: 5).
The Letter to the Hebrews there quotes from the OT Book of Proverbs. The advice, of course, can be addressed also to daughters.
The other day I was reading an on-line essay about Bl. Junipero Serra, who will be canonized in September during Pope Francis’s visit to Washington. The essay told how the holy friar sometimes whipped himself in the pulpit to impress upon his congregation the importance of bodily penance and mortification. That’s probably not the sort of discipline of which our sacred writers (Proverbs and Hebrews) are speaking.
I always remember with amusement something that good Abp. Gene Marino used to say when he lived with us in New Rochelle: “In the Middle Ages they did penance by fasting and the discipline”—meaning self-scourging—“but now we have meetings.”
St. John Bosco urged young Dominic Savio and his other pupils to do the penance of daily life. He forbade Dominic, for instance, to sleep with too light a blanket during Turin’s harsh winters or to put pebbles into his bedding to make it uncomfortable. The proper discipline for a youth, rather, is to obey his parents and teachers, to do his schoolwork and chores, to put up with hot or cold or wet weather, and to be kind and helpful toward his peers.
Dear sisters, you’re excused from homework! But the rest is still good discipline for us, isn’t it?—to obey our superiors and the nursing staff, to put up with the weather, to do such duties as we may have. We are called to be patient with the faults of others and to be kind in our speech—that’s discipline! “Strive for peace with everyone,” Hebrews says (12:14). We may not like the food we’re served—it’s probably rather bland and doesn’t have a lot of variety?—but we don’t have to complain about it. How about the discipline of paying a compliment to someone or of saying thank you to someone who assists us (which most of you already do)?
Yes, there are countless ways in which the Lord continues to discipline the daughters and sons whom he loves, and ways in which we can share in Christ’s sufferings, as Hebrews says elsewhere, so as to share also in his glory (cf. 10:32-38).