Fr. Francis Scaria

Smiley face I was sitting by the side of a friend of mine two days after the demise of his father. He was talking to me about his father recollecting from day to day experience. He told me that every night his father went to bed at about 10 p.m. Before he fell asleep, lying on the bed he would call his wife and ask her whether she had switched off the gas stove. Once he got the answer in the affirmative, he would call his daughter and ask her check whether the toilette lights were off. Having received an answer in the affirmative, he would call the son asking him to ensure that the gate and the main door were locked. This was a daily ritual and my friend admits that he and his sister were often irritated about this daily happening. Yet he added, “while we used to hear of fire and burglary in the neighbourhood, our house remained safe. Our electricity bill too always remained reasonable - all due to my father’s ‘daily ritual’.” Look at the fruits of discipline.

Freedom does not mean indiscipline, but in fact, the perfection of discipline. Very often discipline is understood as something imposed on us. For most of our activities, to be successful, we need to streamline them. For any successful endeavour, streamlining is essential. Discipline is another word for streamlining. Streamlining reduces wastes and avoids needless efforts.

Planning, organising, directing and controlling are traditionally understood as principles of management. In fact, all these activities are meant to discipline the organisation. For successful gardening pruning is essential. Separation from the parents is an essential phase of the independent growth of an individual. Any art work takes shape only through moulding and the complexity of an artistic product depends on the complexity of moulding that it has undergone.

Discipline saves energy and avoids needless efforts. The testimonies of great successful sports stars reveal that they have a life of strict discipline. It is those who are immature who perceive discipline as curtailing of freedom. Discipline is in fact shaping of freedom – freedom to touch the heights which otherwise would be unreachable.

In Deut 4:36 the Word of God says, “From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you”. God disciplines his people. In Prov 3:11-12, we read: “My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” The difference between punishment and discipline is that while punishment looks back, discipline is forward looking. Discipline, like pruning, prepares for a bright future. The Word further says, “Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines a child so the Lord your God disciplines you. Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him”. No wonder Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil.” Freedom is not curtailed by discipline, but is a fulfilment of discipline.

MUSINGS : 1-25, 26-50, 51-75

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