Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 118 – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Discipline is the Key to the Narrow Gate

We tend not to like discipline. It brings up unhappy memories of being punished for breaking the rules. Yet, our 2nd reading today tells us not to begrudge the discipline of God. Rather we should be thankful that we have a loving father that corrects our mistakes. God knows that the only way we can grow in holiness is for him to discipline us when we do things that are harmful to ourselves and others.

However, in addition to this discipline that is imposed for doing wrong, there is another kind of discipline. There is the discipline that we might choose to impose on ourselves…self-discipline. Athletes do this all the time in order to get better and grow stronger. The same is true for the spiritual life. If we expect to become spiritually strong then we’ve got to do more than we’re doing.

Jesus tells us plainly in the gospel that we should strive to enter by the narrow gate. Many, he says, are not strong enough. I’m starting a weightlifting program right now in order to make my body stronger. I’ve learned that if all we ever do is lift our own bodies then our muscles get used to this. It’s no big deal. We have to try to lift something that is almost too heavy for us so that our muscles can wake up and realize that they need to get stronger. In the spiritual life we also have to stretch ourselves. Let’s resolve this weekend to add some new exercises for our souls, to stretch ourselves spiritually to lift more than we think we can. Only this way can we hope to have the strength to enter the narrow gate.

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