Saturday, August 13, 2011

Running the Race

"Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified." (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

Have you ever considered what it takes to be an Olympic gold medalist? No one wins by natural talent alone. Many train several hours a day, every day. Their training is often so extreme that to most of us it seems impossible to perform. And yet even with that training, very few manage to earn the prized gold medal. How do they manage to endure such harsh training? It's simple: they keep their eyes on the prize. They want that gold medal. Anyone can say they want an Olympic gold medal, but if you're not willing to fight for it, if you're not willing to dedicate your life to earning it, you don't really want it. But if you do really want it, if you see it as a prize so valuable that it is worth sacrificing almost anything to earn it, then you will not only be able to train for several hours a day, but you will find it easy. And what is the gold medal? It is a great honor, but the medal itself has very little value. Once you're dead, you won't care about the honor, and pretty soon everyone else will have forgotten it too. But what is our prize? It is not merely a great honor, but also a prize of infinite value: God Himself, and the perfect happiness found in being completely united with Him, loving Him, and being loved by Him, at every moment, for all eternity. If we truly recognize the value of this prize, and remain focused on it, we will not only be able to do whatever it takes to get there, whether that is getting up early to go to Mass, finding a few hours to pray, or giving up our favorite sins, but we will be able to do it easily and joyfully. This is all it takes to be a saint: to do everything for the love of God.

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