"The one who serves God willingly is heard; his petition reaches the heavens.
The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal,
nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds…" Sirach 35:20-21
My Dear Friends in Christ,
What a blessing we had in Confirmation last week. The Church was packed and people were excited. Bishop Parker spoke eloquently about the gift of Confirmation given to our young people. But he also spoke very pointedly, asking them directly to be people of their word, that they were
making a commitment to Jesus Christ and that they should live up to that commitment
to be men and women of integrity, disciples of Jesus Christ. He also addressed head on the crisis of scandal in the Church and told our young people that the Church needed them as part of the solution that will help us continue the work of the Apostles. I am so proud of what so many of them have done already and what God will do with them, in them, for them and, through them for others. Thanks to our catechists, peer ministers, sponsors, and parents who helped to prepare them. Thanks to all who made the celebration so vibrant, especially our Praise Band. Kudo’s also to Emily who braved the crowd to get our official photos!
In the joy of that moment, we continue and conclude our brief message series, #RunningtheRace. Here, we’re focusing on Paul’s image of the disciple as an athlete who practices and runs the race of life and faith so as to win the ultimate victory of life with God, not only in heaven, but here and now. Paul’s image is the antidote to understanding life as a rat race that seeks only and always more, seeing life as a series of far too short and far too fleeting moments to do more to get that more. It’s a competition many of us find ourselves in and struggle to get out of before we turn the final corner.
God offers something different, something better. Paul’s image stresses the idea of practice, of learning how to run the race, sacrificing for victory, running so as to win. Last week, we looked at the 4 “P’s” of Practice, as in practicing for and running the race: #Prayer, #Presence, #Patience and #Persistence. This week, Paul takes us to the finish line so let’s focus on the three “W’s” of winning: Wisdom, Weathering, and Witness. Paul makes running the race elegantly simple if we are deliberate disciples. Paul offers his testimony both through word and example, walking the walk (or running the race) as really and as readily as talking the talk. Even as he suffers, he shares the grace of the disciple:
I have competed well; I have finished the race.