Dear Parish Faithful,
Ironic indeed, that the Olympic Games - which display an array of highly-disciplined specimens of physical prowess and stamina, male and female - should create a vast multitude of "coach potatoes" who remain more-or-less immobile before their TV sets cheering on their respective heroes. As I always find the Olympic Games quite entertaining, I must confess to having been a member of that vast multitude for the past two weeks.
Enjoyable as it was, glad the Games are over! Be that as it may, it is always impressive to see these athletes and their dedication, training, and skill on full display.
These Games had their share of drama, high moments of sheer excellence, and unanticipated heroes; yet almost eclipsed by the embarrassing farce/scandal of some of our American swimmers . Truly an object lesson in telling the truth from the outset, unpalatable as it may be.
The Apostle Paul drew on the Corinthian Games of his day, by transforming some of the athletic events on display into useful metaphors that drive home an essential point of Christian discipline or what we would ultimately call asceticism:
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." (I COR. 9:24-27)
We can see the joy of receiving a gold medal - the perishable wreath of the Apostle Paul's time - in the face of an Olympic champion. So the imperishable wreath/medal serves as one more metaphor for eternal life with God. And having witnessed a few disqualifications during the Games, it was clear about how painful and disappointing such a turn of events can be. Therefore, a sobering reminder of the Apostle Paul concerning our perseverance in "contesting" for the Kingdom of God.
With the approach of the Church New Year it is time to get off the couch!