Run so as to Win

May 13, 2010

Below is a guest post from my dear friend, Michael.  He and I journeyed into ministry together almost 12 years ago, and he continues to be one of the people in ministry whose friendship keeps me invigorated, passionate, and grounded about my call as a lay minister.  He is one of my best friends, the god-father of both of our kids, and a pastor in a parish in Labadieville, Louisiana, and this was part of his Easter Sunday homily. 
On Holy Saturday, people from near and far gather in the Big
Easy (New Orleans) for an annual Easter tradition.  Now, considering
the large Catholic population in Louisiana, one would think the throngs of
people were uniting for a day of prayer in Audubon Park or perhaps to walk in
memory of Jesus’ lasting sacrifice on the cross for us, but in reality, the
only religious overtone to this even is the timing.   For New
Orleans, Holy Saturday is synonymous with the Crescent City Classic, a 10K race
through the worn and pot-holed streets of NOLA. 
After months of training and preparation, runners gather at
the start line and wait anxiously to hear the opening
shot.  POW!  Off they go, many attempting to run 6.2 miles for
the first time in their lives while others stride to set new personal
records.  For the majority of runners, winning isnt the object–it’s
finishing that matters.  Trust me, after finishing two half-marathons
in the past three months, simply making it across the finish line is a victory
for most. 
The Easter season offers us an opportunity to “run so as to
win!”  As Catholics, we celebrate the Pascal Mystery of
Jesus:  His life, death and resurrection.  Often, we become
trapped in the tomb, forgetting that we are Easter people–forgetting that we
are a resurrection people.  Now that doesn’t that we forget that our
world is filled with poverty and hunger or that we shield our eyes from
the wars and violence that stretches across the lands. Never should we hide
from the discrimination and hate that invades communities, for these are
all realities of the world, but destruction and death is not out end; we must
move from the tomb because we are Easter people.  We believe and
trust in new life, in resurrection, in rising from the
dead.  Jesus fought the good fight,
He finished the course, He kept the faith
 (paraphrase 2 Tim.
4:7).  His victory is not a solitary victory but one for all
people.  Our Lord is calling out to each of us during these holy
days, “get in the race!”
“Run in such a way that you may
win (1 Cor. 9:24b).”  Run?  You want me to
run?  YES!  Run so as to win; run as if your life depended
on it because it does.  When we reach the finish line, there won’t be
any great festivities.  Most of us won’t step onto the trophy
platform and there aren’t any cool medals, but the prize for this race can’t be
measured in medals or accolades.  Run so as to win!  The
greatest race of this life has already begun.  Will you choose to sit
on the side, watching others run by or are you going to get into the
race?  It’s not too late; it’s never too late!  Of course,
there will be moments when you feel exhausted and completely drained, but you
will find strength for the journey.  The Lord left us His body and
blood, the Eucharist, to provide just this type of nourishment.  You
may want to give up, throw in the towel and quit but our Lord whispers into our
ear, “Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God. I will strengthen
you, and help you, and uphold you with my right hand
 (Isaiah 41:10 NAB).” 
          Throughout
the race, many voices will be shouting for your attention.  Some will
encourage and others will attempt to distract from the end in
mind.  “You can do it!”  Give up, you don’t have it within
you; you’re worthless. Do not be distracted from the course, put your ear
buds in and listen only to those voices that will help you run so as to
win.  Keep your game face on, stay focused and tune into the voice
within that is calling out to you. 
          Run
so as to win!  The Easter season invites each of us into the biggest
race of our lives.  My friends, the race has already begun, and the
time is now.  In the beginning, He will be there setting the pace for
you.  Once you hit your stride, our Lord will be shoulder to shoulder
with you.  And if you fall behind, Jesus will whisper into your ear,
“You’ve got this!”  When you approach the finish, our God
will be there with open arms to welcome you.  Run so as to win the
greatest prize of them all, run so as to win eternal life!
Are you running so as to win? 
~Fr. Michael Alello

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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