An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2016
There was a movie a few years back entitled, Fever Pitch, where Jimmy Fallon played a devoted Red Sox fan. He was so loyal and consumed by the Red Sox, it was a huge obstacle to any romantic relationship he tried to start. In the end, he found a partner in a woman, played by Drew Barrymore, who was able to deal with his devotion once he showed he was willing to give up his season tickets for her. In fact, she came to love how he cared about something so much, realizing few people care that much about anything.
Loyalty to a sports team can be tested when wins are hard to come by. But true fans never forsake their teams. They cheer them on through the good times and the bad.
The extreme loyalty of the most faithful sports fan gives us only a glimpse of the loyalty God has for us. If everyone chooses to desert us, God remains faithful to His own. This reality should have such an impact on our lives because we never need to fear the obstacles and trials ahead. The life of a disciple is not an easy one. People will sometimes find our faithfulness unsettling or it may make them feel uncomfortable. They may choose to walk away rather than hear about this Jesus that seems all-consuming. But the loyalty and faithfulness of God can be your strength. In Him you will find the strength to run the race and reach the finish line.
And when you cross that finish line, God will be there: your coach, your teammate, and your greatest fan. Think about what happened to the Red Sox after so many years of disappointment. Even when it seems you have no chance to win, God knows if you stick to the game plan, the prize will be yours.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27)
Professional skier, Lindsey Vonn, was recently asked, “Why do you think you’re one of the best female skiers in the world?” Rather than a platitude about work ethic, she simply said, “I have no fear on the mountain.”
It’s our natural impulse be afraid in perilous situations, and in fact some fear can be healthy and keep us focused – like not texting and driving because you fear a fatal crash. But sometimes too much fear can be paralyzing or lead to bad decisions.
When Vonn gets on the skis and starts atop the mountain, she is surely taking a risk. One wrong move and she could be seriously hurt or worse. But the fullest enjoyment of her sport depends upon her not caving into fear. She skis boldly, with single-mindedness, and she wins – a lot.
In 1 John 4.18, we are told “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. ” We follow the highest example of perfect love in Jesus Christ. But it would be mistaken to say that Jesus had no fear – he sweat drops of blood on the night he was betrayed and prayed that the Father would take his sacrifice away. But Jesus did not let fear drive him away from loving perfectly. It did not paralyze him or keep him from doing the right thing.
We are fed a steady diet of bad news on the television and Internet. Fear mongering sells subscriptions and gets clicks. Signs of hope and love are almost always below the fold because the media marketers know we’ll more readily click on the bad stuff. It’s no wonder we are often on edge in our society.
The great gift of life in Christ is that we really don’t have anything to fear. St. Paul says “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Not even death. And if we direct our lives toward perfect love, we will have little time or cause to be afraid.