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Disciplined Disciples

March 15, Wednesday, Third Week of Lent
Deut 4: 1, 5- 9; Mt 5: 17 – 19

The word ‘discipline’ comes from the Latin word ‘disciplina.’ This word disciplina comes from another Latin word discipulus, which means disciple. This simple analysis reveals to us that discipline and discipleship are very much inter-connected. To be a disciple is to be a disciplined person. A person who hates discipline cannot be a disciple. The following quotes are worth remembering: “Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines a child so the LORD your God disciplines you” (Dt 8: 5); “For the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts" (Heb 12: 6). 

In the first reading, we hear Moses instructing the Israel, “See, just as the LORD my God has charged me, I now teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to enter and occupy. You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples.” 

Commandments, laws, and discipline are to our life what the banks are to a river. If there are no two banks, it will just be a wild flow of water, not a river. It is the banks which animates, channelizes a potential flood. Similarly, if a human life is not animated and guided by certain life-giving principles and guidelines, it will be more chaotic and destructive, and in the long run will ruin itself as an untamed jungle river loses its energy and ends its course without reaching its destination, the sea. This is the precise reason why Moses was constantly and continuously instructing the Israelites to follow the God-given commandments. The Israelites were more like jungle river, damaging and destroying themselves and others. 

At the same time, if the commandments and laws become so rigid and inflexible, then they may become counter-productive. This is what happened to the Pharisees and the scribes. They were so much preoccupied and obsessed with the details of the laws that they forgot the original intentions behind them i.e., helping people to relate with one another and with God. Meticulously observing the laws without understanding their purpose made them proud and arrogant, and because of that they isolated themselves from fellow human beings and from God. To further the analogy, given above, it is the case of banks becoming so rigid and not allowing the free-flow of the river. 

Jesus was very keen on returning to the original intention of the commandments and laws, and restoring their spirit. That is why he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil.” It must be noted that Jesus did not say that he was interested in ‘following’ the laws, but in ‘fulfilling’ them. Following involves simply obeying the laws, whereas ‘fulfilling’ involves restoring the spirit in following them. In the process of restoring the spirit of the laws, Jesus was not hesitant to throw away some of the laws which had become stubborn and obsolete, and had lost their meaning. 

The message is that while we understand the importance of laws in our life, we are not to be strangulated by them. 


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.