In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children— “My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.”
Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
As I hear today’s first reading, a phrase keeps coming to mind, “tough love,” not “tender loving care.”
Every parent knows tough love is sometimes the best way to truly care for a child who is headed in the wrong direction. While it is hard for the child, it is certainly just as hard for the parent. Yet the heartache caused is a small cost when change comes about.
In his rules for the discernment of spirits during the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius notes that God works with those truly seeking him by encouraging, consoling and inspiring (tender loving care). On the other hand, for those caught up in a life of sin, God induces the sting of conscience, remorse, and agitation for change (tough love). Even for those truly seeking God, there may be areas of life in which sin does prevail.
Are there areas in my life where God is working for change through the sting of conscience, remorse, and agitation?
How might I change?
—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.
Lord, help us hold to follow the divine insights of St. Ignatius and to trust in your everlasting presence in our lives.
“When in desolation, be patient. It lessens the dryness or emptiness and allows us to go through it less painfully. Everything has its time: we have been consoled in the past and we will be consoled again in the future.”
—From the Spiritual Exercises