God’s Loving Discipline, Fourth Wednesday (I), February 4, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
February 4, 2015
Heb 12:4-7.11-15, Ps 103, Mk 6:1-6

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • As we’ve been noting for the past three-and-a-half weeks in our daily meditation on the Letter to the Hebrews at Mass, this letter was written to the early Christians at a time in which many had undergone fierce persecution and when more persecution was anticipated. We’ve seen that Christ, the definitive Word of the Father, took on our flesh and entered into our world to lead us to eternal glory, to perfection as sons and daughters, but that he would do so precisely through uniting our suffering and death to his salvific suffering and death. He has pierced the veil of the heavenly holy of holies precisely to give us confidence that follow him along this path. In the past few days, we’ve been talking about the holy hypomone — the sacred stamina or endurance — that we need to live the faith in the midst of hardships and difficulties. The Letter to the Hebrews has inspired us by focusing on the persevering faith of so many in a great cloud of witnesses.  Yesterday it reminded us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, to consider how he despised the shame of the Cross and endured opposition, so that we may not grow weary and lose heart. Today it gives us a third motivation: to endure our trials “as discipline,” as the training that will make us holy disciples.
  • Quoting Proverbs 3:11-12, the Letter exhorts us: “My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.” Therefore, he says, “Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as his sons. For what ‘son’ is there whom his father does not discipline?” He tells us that discipline isn’t fun, but it’s important if we’re ever going to mature: “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” Then he gets to the punch line, to get over any potential self-pity party, or diabolical temptation that because we’re suffering God mustn’t love us, by appealing: “So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.” And he makes an appeal for the means by which we are to use our restored hands, feet and knees, precisely through genuine love of neighbor: “Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.”
  • We don’t like discipline because many of us aren’t docile. We don’t think we need to learn. We’re resistant to being surprised by the Lord. We may not think we’re opposed to discipline, but only discipline that we don’t want… We see that in the Gospel. In Nazareth, they were not willing to become disciples of one of their own, one with whom they grew up, one whose furniture and perhaps even houses he had made. From initial amazement at his words, they turned to taking offense at him and as we’ll see in St. Luke’s account, they’d even go to homicidal rage. Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. It tells us that he could work no miracles there, except for healing a few sick people. Normally healing the sick and the lame would be considered great miracles, but it points to the fact that the greatest miracle Jesus wanted to work was salvation, was the forgiveness of sins, was growth in faith, but the lack of faith in the most of the recipients prevented that.
  • Today Jesus comes to this Church, which is his native place, and he seeks to be met by faith, so that as he does the great miracle of transubstantiation, he might also transform us, disciplining us to become more and more like him, sharing his priorities, sharing his word, sharing his training, so that we might be able to continue his mission. Let us receive his help, the loving kindness he desires to give to everyone who fears his name.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 HEB 12:4-7, 11-15

Brothers and sisters:
In your struggle against sin
you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.

Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as his sons.
For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.Strive for peace with everyone,
and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God,
that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble,
through which many may become defiled.

Responsorial Psalm PS 103:1-2, 13-14, 17-18A

R. (see 17) The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him,
For he knows how we are formed;
he remembers that we are dust.
R. The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.
But the kindness of the LORD is from eternity
to eternity toward those who fear him,
And his justice toward children’s children
among those who keep his covenant.
R. The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.

Alleluia JN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?
And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.