St. Paul could have attended the Olympic Games in ancient Greece. He was in Greece when they were being played. He never mentioned the Olympics in his letters, but he has a lot to say about winning.
“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. “(1 Cor 9:24-25)
He is not talking about “winning the gold.” The prize St. Paul is referring to is “an imperishable one,” and the race he is referring to is the journey we all make to God. The great thing about this race is that everybody can win the prize. But, like the Olympians, it takes determination and self-discipline.
Athletes from throughout the world are in London this week to compete for the “perishable prize” referred to by St. Paul. Most of them have trained for years to make it to the Olympics. They have willingly sacrificed many legitimate pleasures in order to prepare their bodies for a single moment of glory and piece of precious metal on a ribbon. They compete knowing that the odds are against most of them.
Our training regimen for our race for the imperishable prize is much simpler. We heard it in the first reading of the Mass last Monday. “…to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
I look forward to the Olympics. Let’s enjoy the games, but let’s never lose sight of our own race and the imperishable prize.
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