Saturday, August 21, 2010

Homily: Discipline, A Loving Act

In preparing couples for marriage one of the most interesting topics is on Parenting. I ask them two things. How were you disciplined? And, How do you hope to discipline your children?

It’s important for all of us to reflect on. How were you disciplined? What about that was good and holy about the way that you were disciplined? And What were ways that you were treated that you would rather not repeat? It turns into a very intense topic and is often entertaining. If you want a good conversation tonight bring up this topic.

I’m not sure that I can tell you the right way to discipline, for example to spank or not to spank, nor is it a debate that I want to get into, but I can tell you that discipline is essential to parenting and to right relationships. Paul says in his letter to the Hebrews “for whom the lord loves, he disciplines.” Therefore discipline is a loving act of God.

Here’s the question. Is your discipline loving? Is it done for the good of the other?

Dr. Ray Guarendi who is a Catholic Layman, wrote a book titled “Discipline that Lasts a Lifetime: The Best Gift You Can Give Your Kids.”

His purpose of the book is to answer common questions parents have about discipline and his premise is that discipline is love in action. “[Discipline] is teaching at the most gentle hands a child will ever experience – a loving parent’s. Discipline now, and the world won’t have to discipline later.”

“Children down deep truly desire limits, the security of knowing what parents expect, Where the line is, and what will happen if it’s crossed.”

“When discipline is staring children in the face, it is not something they want, down deep or otherwise. Yet good often comes from the things kids, even adults, resist most.”

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.

How many parents have treasured the letter from the college saying, “Dear Mom and Dad, thank you for being the parents you were. I see now how kids can act when they’ve had parents who give them too much and let them get away with too much…”

“A parent who finally and firmly takes charge – not with mere words and volume, but with real authority, and with expectations backed by actions – soothes a child’s soul. A grown-up is running the family, the way God intended it, and the children benefit, thought they may not know it or be able to pinpoint why they feel better. Their mood will say, “It’s better this way.” And someday you’ll hear that in words or in a letter from college in their sophomore year.”

Parents are more loving when they discipline. Can we say the same about God? Could we get to that mature relationship with God where we say: “God, Father, I thank you for the times in my life when you disciplined me.”

Do we really believe that God love us enough to discipline us? And if he does love us enough to discipline us, what does that look like?

Paul says He disciplines us through trial. Endure your trials as “discipline”;

Do you have a trial right now in your life? Guess what – God loves you. He’s disciplining you through this. He loves you enough to allow this trial in your life to bring you to a greater maturity in faith.

See the trials in your life, not as God abandoning you, but loving you enough to discipline you. He’s working through all of it. When God firmly takes charge of us with real authority he too can soothe our soul. Trust his love, trust his discipline.

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