30th Sunday in Ordinary Time C — Running the Race and finishing it with faith in front of us

When I was a young boy and then as a teenager, I was not really into playing sports.  I’ve mentioned this in homilies that I have preached in the past.  It just wasn’t “my thing.”  Things like Scouts and participating in Student Government were among the activities that occupied my time.  My younger brother, Ryan, on the other hand, was the more athletically inclined one of the two us but at the same time, even though we had different interests, we were fiercely competitive.  Of course, it was all in good fun.  The great thing about the relationship I had with my brother is that we competed in very different events.  Competition can be healthy and when we are victorious, we possess a sense of accomplishment and a sense of success.  Our parents always encouraged my younger brother and I to strive to do our best; to simply not give up when either we lost at a sporting event or didn’t win the election that we were sure that we were going to win.  Saint Paul extols Timothy that “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” (2Tim 4:7)  There are many opportunities in life for competition and that is a good thing but there is something else that Paul writes to Timothy certain things are required, namely completing the task at hand and never losing faith that yes, you can do it!  This past weekend I preached all the necessity to always be persistent, just like the widow who pestered the judge.  What greeted me Monday morning when I was making the rounds at the hospital?  Someone who just decided that she was tired of fighting; life was no longer worth living.  I have elected to use those powerful words of St Paul this week in this column because just because we think that we have competed well at something, we still have to finish it and do so within the context of faith.  Our God walks with us daily.  He never leaves us alone.  But if we selfishly think that we have done our best and decide to give up, perhaps we need to stop and re-evaluate our actions.  As a people of faith, we must never lose sight of the things that are truly important, namely, union with God and neighbor.  When we experience the love of God and the embrace of our fellow neighbor, then and only then can we say, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”