By Tom Kerrigan
As I have watched these Olympic athletes perform on the global stage of competition over these past couple weeks, I cannot help but consider what it must feel like to win a gold, silver or bronze medal. The sacrifice, pressure and discipline that being an Olympian demands would be overwhelming for most individuals.
I guess it is no secret why these medals are so coveted
not many people ultimately have what it takes to earn one. Let’s be honest, no one likes finishing in last place in any contest and being the runner-up often leaves much more to be desired. But what if--for a moment--we forgot about our pecking order and instead focused on how we even got there in the first place?
In today’s readings, most particularly in St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrew people, we are reminded of the value of discipline. A discipline though that acknowledges our human frailty and shortcomings yet embraces them. A discipline that endures the physical pain only to produce spiritual rewards later on. A discipline that essentially heals the unhealable. What does this type of discipline remind you of? It reminds me of the unconditional love of Christ.
I have recently been re-introduced to a book
entitled The Ignatian Workout: Daily Spiritual Exercises for a Healthy Faith by Tim Muldoon that I first discovered back in 2007 as a Jesuit Volunteer serving (and being served by) my neighbors in Cleveland, Ohio. Almost immediately, I was drawn to the first workout that Muldoon identifies--namely understanding our imperfection, especially when we miss the mark.
Recently, I have been missing the target and letting my pride get the best of me
(if anyone has a healthy answer to combating pride head on, I am all ears). Whether it be refusing to admit to my wife that I do not know how to complete certain household tasks or failing to be honest about my own transgressions, I have developed quite the Olympic-size ego. If I had any critique for Muldoon it would be this: your chapter on discipline should not have been saved until the final few pages.
I sometimes get so caught up in my own glory that I forget to follow and give credit to Christ, my leader, who ultimately puts me in position to be victorious over much tougher foes than the Brazilians or the British.
I too often try to rely upon my own God-given abilities and refuse to seek God’s will--a grueling yet well-traversed course which I know will bring me more satisfaction than any award or first place finish in this lifetime.
"...let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God” (Heb 12: 1-3).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tom Kerrigan’s grace-filled journey has led him to encounter others throughout many different campuses, cities and countries. He consider himself to be a devout Irish Catholic as well as an accepting, compassionate individual. For the past five years or so, he have been serving as a full-time guidance counselor, AP Psychology teacher, Campus Minister and varsity running coach at Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River, MA. In his spare moments, he enjoys spending quality time with his wife and family. He is an avid sports fan, amateur chef (an even better dishwasher!) and constant explorer of God’s natural beauty.