Faithful submission to the will of God, always and everywhere, in all events and circumstances of life, gives great glory to God. As I write, my soul is enraptured at the thought of how much God loves it and of the peace my soul already enjoys, here on earth.
Reflections from the Diary of St. Faustina, par. 724
Five times in today’s short reading from the letter to the Hebrews we hear the word discipline. This letter, steeped in theological insights, relies heavily on Old Testament principles. The book of Proverbs begins with these words: The Proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel, that men may appreciate wisdom and discipline, may understand words of intelligence (Prov. 1:1-2). Observe how these divinely inspired words join wisdom with discipline and proclaim them both leading to intelligence. We recognize a similar theme in the book of Wisdom when we read these words, Simply I learned about wisdom… those who gain this treasure win the friendship of God, to whom the gifts they have from discipline commend them (Wis. 7:13-14).
Now, take note of Jesus’ words when asked about how many might be saved. “Many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” He doesn’t elaborate on this point but we know from his other teachings that we do not gain salvation by our own strength and it is significant that these words are preceded by His simple instruction, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” It takes discipline, which, unfortunately, has garnered, in our time, many negative connotations but its etymology suggests more positive meanings, with close ties to the word, disciple.
Disciplina, the root of discipline, is a Latin noun that refers to education or training. Discipulus, the root of disciple, is a noun for student or trainee. The analogy of an athlete works well here because the trainer can do nothing for the athlete unless he/she accepts the trainers discipline. It may do us well to heed the caution of Psalm 50, verses 16-17: To the wicked God says: “Why do you recite my commandments and profess my covenant with your lips? You hate discipline, you cast my words behind you!”