20th Sunday of the Year – Keep Running the Race

Runner

Study:  When in my life did I hit a “wall” – an obstacle that seriously affected my life?

Pray:  Call upon the Lord for the wisdom and courage to face the challenges before us.

Serve:  Who in my life can I encourage to continue?

20th Sunday Readings:

I have a lot of respect for marathon athletes.  The sport of running is grueling in both physical and mental ways, demanding discipline, dedication, and concentration.  Running is hard work, and those athletes who embrace the sport demonstrate their willingness to accept a difficult challenge.

While many runners work out with a partner or a group, running is ultimately an individual sport.  Whereas a team sport allows a person to have a poor performance and still win, a runner who breaks down is lost.  The energy, stamina, and focus must come from each runner, or the race will not be completed.

Runners often talk about the “Wall.”  At some point (usually toward the end of the race) the body revolts.  Concentration is lost, breathing is labored, and the legs feel like they are made of lead.  To the runner it seems almost impossible to continue, and for a time it is only by sheer will, as one foot is forced ahead of the other, that the runner goes on.

Where do runners get this kind of strength?  Where do they find the energy and determination?  Every runner is different, yet every one relies on some kind of conviction or encouragement to continue.  This focus – to finish running the race – gives them the power to see it through.

“Running the Race” has much to tell us about the journey all of us encounter in our lives.  For we know that there are times when we encounter our own personal wall, that obstacle, event, or sin which drains our strength and concentration.  At these moments we can feel exhausted – beyond help, guidance, or the desire to continue.

The letter to the Hebrews reminds us that at these times we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the source and center of our faith.  It is the Lord’s example which gives us the hope we need to face the challenges and obstacles of any given day.  By ourselves we can stumble and fall to temptation and sin, but with the strength of Christ we continue, finding new life where we thought there was none.

Running a race IS hard work; the same is true for life.  We know that the journey is not easy.  Yet we know that through our faith in Jesus we have a source of strength that will not abandon us.  The Lord is near, inviting us to continue and finish the journey, inspired by the example of Christ.

About Fr. Andrew Ricci

A Catholic priest since 1997, Fr. Andrew Ricci is currently the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI. His website "Three Great Things" can be found at studyprayserve.com and his podcasts can be found under "Catholic Inspiration" in the iTunes store. View all posts by Fr. Andrew Ricci

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