In the Letter to the Hebrews today (12:4-7, 11-15) we read a reflection on discipline. Paul is suggesting that discipline should be a cause for joy, not pain, and can be seen in the long run to bring “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” Paul speaks of discipline as an important part of parental training as well as a way to view the trials that come from God.
A long time ago I read a book entitled Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster that changed my view of the purpose and practice of the word. I certainly had learned the connection between “discipline” and “disciple” and understood that self-discipline is the way to discipleship but this book – just by its title and then by its content – moved spiritual practices from the realm of work to a place of enthusiasm and joy for me. To celebrate what it takes of day-to-day sitting in meditation or speaking kindness to others no matter our mood does not come naturally for most of us. If, however, we begin to think of these practices as gifts to us from God, the entire enterprise changes to one of celebration. And it doesn’t matter if every day is a new beginning of the process. I believe God offers us a clean slate with each sunrise.
So let us take St. Paul’s advice to “strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees” and “make straight the paths of your feet” in order to “strive for peace with everyone and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord..” And. remember that “with God everything is possible!”