First Corinthians 9:24-25

Brothers and Sisters,

Whether it is the Summer- or Winter Olympics, I love to watch.  Sure, there’s the excitement of the competitive spirit and the hope that athletes from our country will win; I, however, really enjoy seeing sports that I otherwise never get to see. Curling, for instance:  who knew it could be exciting?  Downhill skiing and jumping:  I’ve never gone that fast even on my best day.  Luge, bobsled, and skeleton:  I’ll watch, thanks, but don’t ask me to try it.  Halfpipe: way, way too dangerous for me but the Olympians certainly make it look easy.  Speedskating: now that’s something I wish I would have grown up doing – I would only try the long distance, though, the short races (again) seem too dangerous.

It all looks so easy when these remarkable athletes are in their various competitions.  Even the figure skaters make landing one-footed on a razor-thin blade look easy.  They are so skilled (talented, too, surely) and have put countless hours into both the craft and the practice of their sport.  Years of strong discipline and commitment have now paid off and brought many of these competitors to the world’s most famous and prestigious sports-stage.  If there is an annoying part, it is only in how easy it looks.  For many of us, just putting on a pair of skis is challenge enough, to say nothing of moguls.

With that in mind I wonder, truly, why so many people believe Christianity to be easy.  I am not speaking here of deathbed conversions, but rather of those who claim to be Christian but do not put strong, intentional, and – yes – daily attention to the discipline of the Holy Faith.  Imagine a hopeful Olympian (or Christian) who would go days at a time without training (prayer); could you think of a medalist who went without regimented practice (Mass) or coaching (confession), or a champion who is an athlete (Catholic) simply because his or her parents were raised in the sport (Church)?

The commitment of the athletes could be very telling for the importance we place on the Holy Faith.  Ask of yourself: if the Church disappeared today, would your life be any different?  Right now, this Lent, let’s all work very hard to be sure that the full answer is yes.  Without full commitment and obligation to practice, these athletes would not have made it to PyeongChang.  For the Faith to change our lives, we too need the same all-day, every-day discipline that makes being an Olympic athlete possible.  Simply put, “run the race so as to win;” don’t let yourself or others believe that Christianity is easy or part-time.  Christianity is greatly more difficult than Olympic competition.

God be near,

Father Jeremy