Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Ordinarily, discipline means a regulation, self-control, punishment or a study. The world has its own ways: to gather power and wealth and satisfy one’s whims, to seek security even at the expense of the weak and ignorant, to wallow in economic affluence, and to give in to laziness and mediocrity. So a worldly person, when he sees money, sees food, property and power; when he sees a job opening, sees the car he wants; when he comes upon a treasure, sees his dream house. He thinks not according to essentials, but according to whims.
People with certain discipline see things differently. For an ordinary person, a piano is a fine furniture, but for a musician it is music. For a student a mathematical computation is a problem, but for a chemist it can be a big chemical reaction. For an unbeliever, a church is a big house, but for a believer, it is the house of God. The disciples of Jesus saw big money in the alabaster jar of costly perfumed oil that the woman poured on the head of Jesus while He was reclining at table (cf Mt 26:7-11), but Jesus in His great love for sinners saw her sincere conversion.
Our second reading today talks of discipline as reproof, trial and putting order to one’s ways according to his responsibilities and according to God’s ways. The letter to the Hebrews teaches us not to disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him…. to endure trials as discipline…. to strengthen drooping hands and weak knees and to make straight paths so that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed (Heb 12:5-13). It teaches us to be grateful for whatever we experience, as blessing and discipline from the Lord, for He loves us.
God does not see condemned sinners, but disciples invited to be with Him. He does not see people as mere dust, easily blown by the wind, but through his mercy and their cooperation, as children, and therefore heirs of His Kingdom. Yes, we are sinners, yet called to be holy as God is holy. Holiness, though, does not depend on our human understanding, but on God’s grace and on how much we strive to come to God in prayer, in forgiveness, in love and in service. God wants us to see things with the eyes of His Son Jesus.
Wide and easy are the ways of the world for:
– the self-righteous, proud person. He brags about what he has or has achieved. During Her visit with Elizabeth, the Mother of Jesus already proclaimed: “He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones, but lifted up the lowly” (Lk 1:51-52). Salvation is not for a few only or for those who boast about their alliance with religion, but it is offered to all, who live upright lives and believe and are faithful to God’s will.
– the self-absorbed rich person. He works only for himself and for those he loves. He hoards wealth even at the expense of others. But Mother Mary proclaimed: “The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:53). How long will they last?
– the self-centered domineering person. He tries to control arrogantly every situation without considering relationships and feelings. He thinks he is better than others and superior to everyone. Mary has proclaimed: “His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart” (Lk 1:50-51).
The door to eternal life is open to the humble and meek, to the faithful and honest servant and to the obedient steward. The reward of eternal life depends on one’s conduct here on earth, and Jesus already gave us a picture of reward and judgment: Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy (Mt 25:23), while the wicked, lazy servant will be thrown into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth (Mt 25:26-30).
It is said that it’s better to lose your ego to the one you love, than to lose the one you love because of your ego. Let us lose ourselves to God. Let Him take charge of our lives. Let us listen and learn from our Master, and let Isaiah’s word’s resound in us to walk righteously and speak honestly, and we shall dwell on the heights, with fortresses of rock for stronghold, food and drink in steady supply (cf. Is 33:15-16).
Through the narrow door of the tomb of Jesus should our sins and follies be buried, and through that same narrow door will come forth the light of the Sun. We then can pray with the whole Church: Lord Jesus, early in the morning of your resurrection, you made your love known and brought the first light of dawn to those who dwell in darkness. Your death has opened a path for us. Do not enter in judgment with your servants; let your good Spirit guide us together into the land of justice (Psalm-Prayer at Night Prayer, Tuesday, The Liturgy of the Hours).