Do you perhaps remember, as you were growing up and setting out on your own path, how threatened your parents felt by some of your choices? Perhaps as a parent of adult children, you today feel challenged or criticized when they do not replicate your own conduct.
On a purely mundane level that happens in every family—even in Jesus’ family. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus at twelve years old stayed behind in Jerusalem without telling his parents. In Mark’s Gospel, his family comes to take him away from his ministry because they think he’s gone mad. Family life is like that.
On a deeper level, you may be discovering that what you inculcated in your children, at a child’s level of understanding, you are surpassing with a more demanding ethic. Even as adults, they may not have yet caught up with you. Can’t growth in discipleship generate estrangement?
Remember, disciple and discipline come from the same root which refers to the capacity for learning. To learn, means that I realize I’m lacking something I need and don’t know how to attain it. I need to be taught, I must be open to changing, to be stretched, to wrestle a new identity from life. For that to happen won’t I have to trust someone who knows better? Don’t I need discipline, to set limits on myself to remain focused?
How much do I have to keep downsizing my baggage—material and psychic—to grow? Or how often have I let possessions, labels, status symbols—let alone personal connections or family name or family experience—explain who I am? Even to myself!
If I want to be called a disciple of Jesus to be identified or admired, have I learnt anything at all? Or am I in the same old, inadequate rut as when I realized I lack something I still really need?