It happened in Spokane, Washington during the 100 meters race in the Special Olympics. One of the contestants (Down syndrome) stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over, and began to cry. Five continued running, wanting to get the first spot and the gold medal. Two stopped, turned back and helped the boy to get up. Then, hand in hand they run the rest of the race, arriving obviously last.
They lost the medal but they won something more precious. What matters in life, perhaps, is not just winning. This fierce spirit of competition that has been well ingrained in our character may well be unbalanced. Success at all costs is not the ultimate goal in life. Faithfulness is.
God assigned to every single one of us a mission. No one arrived on earth accidentally. There is a mystery behind every birth. A mystery of election and choice that is full of good sense! John Henry Newman, the British Anglican converted to Catholicism, once wrote, “God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have a mission. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons… Whatever I am I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness will serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity will serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow will serve Him. He does nothing in vain; He knows what He is about.”
And not only God gave us a precise mission to accomplish here on earth, but He also gave us the tools to do a good job. To each one of us He gave a different tool box. It may seem that in life some have more than others. But the truth is that everyone has exactly and exclusively what he/she needs to work the assignment given by God. A person sick in bed can save as many souls as the famed missionary who treks half the world in search of souls.
But there is more to it. God not only gives each one of us a specific mission and all the gadgets we need to do a good job, but He also gives us the extra push we need to accomplish it. This is where many times the evil one tries to put a damper on things. He makes us believe that when life becomes tough, we are on our own. ‘God is not going to pay your mortgage.’ ‘God can do nothing in front of the infidelity of your husband.’ ‘God cannot pull your son out of drugs.’ ‘What can God do with my character?’
Many times we feel paralyzed. God perhaps was powerful yesterday but can He be powerful today?! This is where reality can kick in. Reality is that Jesus Christ has promised that He wants to lend a hand in what we are doing.
A team acquires immense potentialities when a star player joins the team. Wayne Gretzky is considered in Canada the world’s most powerful player in hockey. Mike Jordan was a remarkable force in basketball; in his career he had a regular-season scoring average of 30.12 points per game, the highest in NBA history. The Brazilian Pele is a household name in soccer. Just imagine if Jesus Christ, the star player in the game of life, partners with you. You can beat any adversary. He knows all the tricks. He never gets tired. He is always full of Spirit. He is always composed and unruffled! It is easy to win with a player like Jesus Christ enrolled in your team!
Omar Ibargoyen may not be a familiar name to many. But he is one of the persons who made a difference in the lives of many. A lawyer from a leading Uruguayan family, Omar decided to leave his profession and dedicate himself to put together a musical show called Gente que Avanza that toured all around America giving hope to many. “Of course, he was criticized a lot,” says Jeanette his wife. “His family and friends thought he was crazy. But he was a man of conviction and if he thought something was right, nothing would move him from that.”
As the cancer that ended his life spread from his intestines to the liver and then to his lungs, he had the audacity to leave this message to his family, “Let us abandon ourselves in the arms of God, knowing that His plan for each one of us is perfect… the best, although at the moment we may not understand it. This acceptance has given me the peace and strength necessary to face each day and deepen my faith and gratitude for life… that continues forever. Whatever happens, I know that everything will be all right.”
The prophet Isaiah is right, “He gives power to the faint and strengthens the powerless”.
Betty Maione of Ottawa Canada has a number of ailments that cause her to be in constant pain. However she never lets self-pity – that self-indulgent belief that makes you think that your life is harder than everyone else’s – gulp her down. When asked, “How are you feeling, Betty?” her answer invariably is, “Ooh, I have my good days and my bad days, but when I have my good days, I feel terrrrific!”!
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.