Love of sports is not a modern phenomenon. St. Paul gives us a great sports analogy in today’s first reading. In our Gospel reading, we’re back in Luke 6 for more of the Sermon on the Plain. Jesus talks about taking the wooden beam out of our own eye before attempting to remove the splinter from a brother’s eye.
While I wouldn't be comfortable labeling myself an "athlete," I've been involved in many athletic endeavors. Even if you’re not very athletic, you have to have great admiration and respect for professional and world-class athletes. Their dedication is amazing. They push their bodies to the limit, always striving to improve. St. Paul says, “Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.” We need to think of ourselves as spiritual athletes.
As a (former) marathoner, ultramarathoner and now cyclist, I know what it takes to prepare to do endurance events. It takes commitment and discipline. Unfortunately, I don’t always exercise those traits in my spiritual life. I too often get lazy and complacent. I settle. If I’m a slacker in my athletic training, then it will show. I will crash and burn before reaching the finish line. I sure don’t want that to happen in the race to eternity.
Father, help us to always train well for the race that truly counts; our journey to heaven. Give us the strength of discipline and perseverance. Amen.