November 4, 2011 - Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop

Today's Readings

St. Paul has a very good analogy for the spiritual life, in another reading, where he compares it to athletics. If only we could train and deny ourselves and strive like athletes, who do all these things just to win a gold medal, then we would be doing very well as Christians. If any Christian claims that the life demanded of us is too demanding, let them look at the 8 year old girl who is putting in 6 hours a day in the gym. If any Christian thinks that a little fasting during Lent is too hard, let them see how athletes eat. It is a very good point. The possibility for greatness lies within us, but will we use it?

Jesus makes the same point today with another analogy: consider how hard some people work to get rich. Consider the small business owner who is their only employee and works 18 hour days, who stays up all night making sure that the deliveries are sent out, who goes to bed each night thinking about how they could improve the inventory system and jumps out of bed each morning to open the store. The children of this age are wiser than the children of light when it comes to business.

Imagine if we worked as hard at being Christian as the average athlete with their sights set on the Olympics. Imagine if we worked as hard at growing our spiritual life as the average small business owner works at growing their market share. Whether in athletics or in business or in scientific achievement or in politics, men and women are right this moment working harder and smarter and better than most Christians will ever work at Christianity. A person would expect that since our reward is so much greater, our effort would be too, but instead we seem to hope that a little effort will be enough.

Maybe a little effort will be enough. Maybe God will let nearly everyone into Heaven after time in Purgatory. I do not know. But athletes do not say that they are "fast enough" and business owners do not say that they are "successful enough". If someone does, they are not the kind of person I am talking about. Let us not be good enough. Let us be excellent! Let us compete with each other to see who can love the most, believe the best, hope the strongest, and be the most humble.