Being learned Dominicans I’m sure you know that the words “discipline” and “disciple” come from the same root word discipulus, which means “learner”. We want to be disciples of Christ, and we want to respond to his call to learn from him, and to be transformed more and more into his image. And part of that learning and transformation process involves discipline and correction. Like any good teacher, Our Lord knows he must encourage us and tell us when we are doing well. And like any good teacher, he knows that he must also point out our mistakes and correct us when we go the wrong way. Without correction, we will never learn. So, correction is a good thing.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews shows us how God can use the hard things we are asked to do, or the hard things that befall us, to discipline us. Experiences like these clarify two things for us. First, when things don’t go so well, or they don’t go our own way, we discover what matters most to us. And second, when pressed beyond our natural abilities, we realize that our real strength comes from God and not from our own resources.
Often God clarifies his intentions for us through a word of correction. This may come through Scripture, or in our prayer, through study or, for us religious, through our superior.
We all like to be encouraged and even praised and given a pat on the back for a job well done, but we should ask ourselves whether we avoid being disciplined. We need to follow the advice given in the Letter to the Hebrews: Your Father is only treating you as his beloved child. Remember the Son who learned obedience from what he suffered so that he could become the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Hebrews 5:8).