“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:27
Children often step out of line. That’s the only way they can learn where the line is. It is the job of good parents to put their children back in line. We call this discipline. Did you ever notice how similar the word “discipline” is to the word “disciple”? A disciple is one who learns at the feet of the master. The discipline chosen by a disciple is his area of study. Other images, however, often float to the minds of those who have been disciplined – spankings, timeouts, visiting the principal’s office, ruler on the knuckles, soap in the mouth, etc. – but the heart of discipline is to learn from a master.
Jesus was clearly the Master at whose feet His Disciples gladly sat and learned. But not perfectly. You will notice in the Gospel readings this month that it almost seems as if the Disciples missed a lesson or two. From James and John asking for heavenly seats of glory to Peter playing the part of Satan, the disciples needed regular discipline to stay in line with what their Master was teaching.
The Disciples were ordinary people. There was nothing special about any of them. They were not particularly disciplined. They were simply living their lives the best they could. It was when the Master called them as Disciples that they began to change. It was three years of study that shaped them to be the ones to whom Jesus would send His Holy Spirit and begin His church. Not one of the Disciples ever became a master. They always found themselves only at the feet of their Lord, constantly learning and growing all their lives.
There are many disciples of Jesus today. Many people who claim Jesus as their Master. Very likely you are one of them. Far be it from any to ever believe themselves more than disciples. Far be it from any of us to believe we are ever beyond the need for Jesus’ discipline. Rather, let us constantly find ourselves at the feet of our Master learning from Him. Let us return to regular worship to hear Him speaking to our hearts and lives. Let us return to regular reception of the Sacrament that we might taste and see that the Lord is good. Let us gather our family for regular study. Let us pray – upon waking, before meals, before sleep, with and for loved ones. Let us discipline our bodies so that what we preach is more than just nice ideas, but how we actually live as Christians.
The Lord Jesus Christ, our Master, promises to watch over us and be in our midst as we go about these exercises of faith. We are His disciples. Allow Lent 2012 to be the year that you return to the feet of your Master. Let this be the year you actively find ways to strengthen your faith. Let this be the year you step out in your faith with Jesus!