Saint Matthew 5:19

Brothers and Sisters,

Football is back!  College and professional teams have been underway for a while now.  Hockey is back!  The professional teams have started their preseason and my excitement is building for the regular season.  College basketball is far away yet, but still close enough that I’m already following the news about my favorite teams.

I really enjoy watching these sports – especially when my favorite teams are playing.  It’s just fun!  Even when my teams don’t win – which I admit is frustrating and disappointing – I still would say that watching the games was worth my time.  Even when I feel exhausted from the tension of “will they make it” (I’m referencing here specifically the Vikings-Packers game from last week) it is a “good” exhausted feeling – though I imagine none of the fans feel good about at tie game.

I wonder, though, if we’ve had any such specific goals for our families as we learn to be better Christians.  Do we have such clear goals for ourselves to achieve and win the day?  Think football or soccer:  get the ball across the “goal” line – it’s obvious.  Tennis:  get the ball past your opponent.  Basketball: rack up the points.  Baseball:  go home – get the runner home.  Track and cross country:  finish the race before the person that’s ahead of you (. . . and so on).

What’s the goal for your practice of the Holy Faith?  Where is your game plan?  What’s your strategy?  When does your practice schedule fit in with other events?  These are not merely questions analogous to sports and practice that I am “shoe-horning” into a metaphor about the Faith.  I remember coaches telling me that simply showing up on the day of the game (or the race or the meet) isn’t a winning strategy.  Without practice, without strategy, without a game plan we are not going to have any chance at winning the contest.

A strong team or competitive individual does not simply show up without practice and expect a win.  Think recess in elementary school:  the games we played after lunch at school were just to use-up some energy, there was no point in winning the kickball game or football match – just goof off before class starts again.  The games played by our organized teams – still meant to be just a fun time – were more about practice, game plans, and the go-fight-win mentality.

Heaven cannot be “won” by showing up without deliberate practice.  Remember the words of Saint Paul:  fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith (cf. Second Timothy 4:7).  To cross the goal line, we need to practice the faith today, tomorrow, and forever.

God be near,

Father Jeremy