Monday, August 26, 2013

Discipline in the faith: 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time

            In a recent phone conversation one of my best friends said to me, “Fr. Ben, you need to let that go.”  I was telling Josh about the newest string of nightmares I have had.  In consecutive nights I dreamed that I was sent back to seminary for more formation, and way behind in my math homework.  I remember telling myself that I needed to get Josh to pound out my homework to catch up.  That’s when he said it was time for me to move on.
            As our children and teachers prepare for another academic year, there isn’t much I miss about gearing up for classes.  But one thing I do miss, even after many years, is getting ready for cross country season.  Especially in these hot and humid days I find myself lacking in motivation to get out and exercise.  Having a team to run with kept pushing me to become better and was fun at the same time.
Reminiscing about cross country was in my mind as I read from our second reading—“Endure your trials as discipline…all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain.”  Any athlete knows that not every moment of practice or games is fun.  It takes hard work, conditioning, strength training and studying to become a good athlete and teammate.
Being a Christian is no different.  Jesus never said it was easy, but he did give us a team in which we could be pushed, encouraged and strengthened: the Catholic Church.  And he instructed this team to go out to all the world and convert nations.  Yesterday in the Office of Readings for St. Bartholomew the Church prayed, “For the good deeds done by tax-collectors and fishermen through God’s grace the kings, philosophers and countless multitude could not imagine.”  A small group of men and women indeed spread the Good News to all the world.  And they did this because they exemplified discipline in by focusing on the most important part of life: living in relationship with Jesus.
We are continually called to grow in discipline of living out the faith.  God wants to be ever present in our daily and weekly schedules.  In a special way, today’s readings provide an opportunity to consider how focused we are on making Him a part of all we do and are.
Jesus calls us to preach the Gospel to the world.  This may seem daunting or even vague, but he asks us to allow him into our world.  Like a good teammate we are called to make our family, workplace and classroom better.  Is Christ present in these places?
How are you called to be more disciplined in the faith?

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