THE SERVANT GENERAL
RUNNING THE RACE
First Sunday of Advent
CFC-FFL Family Day
dear co-workers in Christ,
way Paul describes the Christian life is likening it to
a race, and we to athletes who participate in that race.
As we today have our Family & Sports Day, it is appropriate
to look to the deeper meaning of our coming together in
this sports venue and in this celebration.
is required of athletes in order to win? They need a sense
of purpose, training, physical fitness, team support and
endurance. For Christians to run the race of life well and
to attain the ultimate prize, we need the same.
sense of purpose
must have our goal in mind, and doggedly and single-heartedly
pursue it. Athletes run to win, to attain the gold, to stand
out among the field. The goal is what motivates them, what
makes them give their all.
is the same way with the Christian life. We must look to
the goal we are striving for. Thus it was for that great
apostle Paul. “Just one thing: forgetting what lies
behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue
my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward
calling, in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13b-14).
us, our ultimate goal is being with Jesus in eternal glory
in heaven. That should be our singular pursuit. That should
determine everything else we do in life. That is what should
keep us straining forward, through the ups and downs of
life, undeterred by difficulties and trials.
is God’s upward calling. It is being raised up to
imitation of Christ, to holiness unto the Lord, to perfection
unto the Father. And it is ultimately being raised up to
heaven, where God has already reserved a special place for
achieve their goal, athletes need to be trained. They not
only look to the goal, but they need to know the best way
to win the race. They need especially the wisdom of more
experienced athletes and trainers. They need to look to
what already works. They need to study the ways of top athletes
who have gone before them.
is the same way for the Christian life. Christians need
to be trained in the ways of God. God needs to be able to
show us how to live our Christian lives. This comes in the
form of sound teaching and instruction. This comes from
Jesus through our times of personal prayer, through the
Bible which is the inspired word of God, through our leaders
in community, through our pastors in the Church.
aim of this instruction is love from a pure heart, a good
conscience, and a sincere faith.” (1 Tm 1:5). We are
to love as Jesus loves, with purity of intent towards all.
Our consciences should be properly and well formed, according
to the authentic teaching of God through His Church. Our
faith is to be sound and sincere, lived out concretely in
our day-to-day lives.
is intended to keep athletes physically fit, for the race
is rigorous and demanding. For Christians, we need not only
keep physically fit, honoring our bodies that are temples
of the Holy Spirit, but more especially we are to keep spiritually
fit. We must be fit for the fight. This means that our goal
must be to be holy as God is holy, so that we can become
His fitting and worthy instruments in the world.
was very deliberate. “Every athlete exercises discipline
in every way. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight
as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train
it” (1 Cor 9:25a,26-27a). And if athletes train in
this way for a human race, how much more Christians! The
athletes “do it to win a perishable crown, but we
an imperishable one.” (1 Cor 9:25b). The winning athlete
will have his one-time moment of glory, but we will share
in God’s glory for all eternity.
such training and keeping fit is throughout our lifetime.
We must keep at it. We must be faithful every day to our
prayer time and our Bible reading. We must be faithful to
our life and mission in community. We must keep moving ahead
on the path to holiness. We can never take our current spiritual
standing with God for granted. Paul had this attitude, saying,
“for fear that, after having preached to others, I
myself should be disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:27b). Now
that would be a tragedy.
athletes are not self-made persons. They cannot achieve
their greatest potential without others helping them. An
athlete needs his coach, trainer, teammates (as in a relay
race), nutritionist, physical therapist, and his supporters
cheering him on. For us Christians, this team support is
provided by our community (parish and/or religious group).
is Christian community that provides us the environment
of training, support and growth. Here we undergo formation,
are given fraternal correction, receive encouragement and
inspiration. Here we have opportunities to serve which helps
us to grow, and are enabled to move forward together in
all share in victory or defeat. “Now you are Christ’s
body, and individually parts of it. If one part suffers,
all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all
the parts share its joy.” (1 Cor 12:27,26). We are
all in this race together.
race is tough. The demand on physical bodies is extreme.
The goal often seems so far away. Athletes can only finish
the race if they endure, if they persevere, if they fight
discouragement and fatigue, if they call upon that extra
ounce of strength that is always within them.
is the same with the Christian life. We must endure. We
must persevere. “It is necessary for us to undergo
many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts
14:22b). There will be disappointments coming even from
brethren. There will be persecution from worldly secular
powers. There will be oppression from the evil one. There
will be crosses to carry.
do we endure? We go back to what we started with: we keep
our eyes fixed on Jesus and the goal of salvation and eternal
glory. So “let us ….. persevere in running the
race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on
Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” (Heb 12:1c-2a).
And as we look to Jesus, we look to his holiness and righteousness,
and to his telling us to follow him and walk in his ways.
Thus we also “rid ourselves of every burden and sin
that clings to us” (Heb 12:1b). These are what weigh
us down in our running the race.
finally, we are to endure all and do so with joy, just like
Jesus did. “For the sake of the joy that lay before
him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken
his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”
(Heb 12:2b). If we follow Jesus, that path leads us all
the way to the cross. We are to embrace the cross of Christ.
But that path also leads us beyond the cross, into the very
throne room of God.
so my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I urge you, “Run
so as to win.” (1 Cor 9:24b). Be not mediocre in your
Christian life. Be not co-opted by the comforts of life.
Be not distracted by the allures of the world. Do not give
in to the demands of the flesh. Resist the temptations of
the enemy. Be single-minded for God. Give your all and hold
nothing back. And already rejoice in the victory that is
so the race is before us. God has provided whatever we need
to finish the race and win. Now it is up to us.
pray that all of us can be able to say, with Paul: “I
have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept
the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits
me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on
that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed
for his appearance.” (2 Tm 4:7-8).
you all at the finish line!
bless us all.
fellow runner in the race,