Faith Like a Champion
St. Paul teaches us that our training our spiritual body and mind is like an athlete in a competitiion:
Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. -1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NAB
The 2012 Summer Olympics in London have just begun. The greatest athletes from all over the world have come together to compete for the coveted bronze, silver, and gold medals. Many have trained their whole lives for this moment – hoping that they will achieve glory!
The Olympic athletes can teach us a great deal about how to train for the big race. While they train their physical bodies for competition, we train our spiritual minds and bodies. We can use their example to draw parallels to our own lives, just as St. Paul did in today’s verse.
For Olympians, their training often begins at an early age and continues into their adulthood. They did not wake up one day as a great athlete; they put years of hard work and preparation in to reach these great levels. If we want to win the spiritual prize waiting for us at the end of our lives, we must also put in the years of hard work and preparation.
How do we train our spiritual bodies? Simple: prayer, tithing, serving those less fortunate, evangelizing, and partaking in the Sacraments. By exercising our spiritual minds and bodies in these ways, we are preparing ourselves for the big race.
What is the big race? In some ways, our life is full of small sprints that we must compete in. Each day can be seen as a short race that we want to put our best effort into. Some races we will win; others we will not. Sometimes, we will choose to not even show up to the race. Regardless of our previous losses, we must strive to race another day.
We can also look at our whole lives as more like a marathon. A marathon is a race that few will finish (or even attempt), and it takes great dedication to prepare for. Individual legs of the race add up to the entire journey. Some legs, we will be coasting downhill; other legs, we will face uphill battles. At times, we may want to quit, but we must never give up. We must put every ounce of energy we have into the race to reach the finish line.
Are you a spiritual champion? Have you trained your spiritual body for the short sprints and long marathons of your spiritual life? Train hard, never give up, and regarldess of how many times you may lose, live to race another day. One day, if you train hard enough, you will win a prize greater than any medal.