First Place Award for General Excellence, Catholic Press Association, 2013-2016

LORD, TO WHOM SHALL WE GO?
Marathon Lessons Apply to Life’s Course
Lord, To Whom Shall We Go?
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan

Last Sunday’s New York Marathon seemed even more festive than ever. That’s good! After the tragedy on Halloween afternoon, we needed it!

I’ve meditated before on the proposition that the marathon is a wonderful paradigm of life itself, and is particularly appropriate during the month of November as we pray for the souls of the faithful departed, and reflect upon the gift of eternal life in heaven.

See if you agree that the marathon is an image of life itself.

• The marathon has a goal, a finish line. So do we: the goal of life is heaven, the salvation of our soul, everlasting union with God.

• The marathon requires practice! Nobody runs it without a lot of preparation. The journey of life needs practice, too...we have successes, we have failures. Sometimes we win, other times we lose, especially in our struggle with sin. We call ourselves “practicing Catholics,” because to be faithful requires a lot of practice!

• The marathon is about perseverance. It’s not necessarily the fastest who win, but those who stick to it! So it is with our life. Jesus told us so often we had to persevere in our prayers and in our fidelity to Him.

• The marathon takes discipline. To exercise, stay trim, keep in shape...not easy. So does our life of discipleship need such rigor. Jesus recommends fasting and self-sacrifice.

• The runners are aware they’re not running alone, but have the company of thousands of other competitors. So does the race of faith back to God: we are part of a team, in communion with others: the Church!

• The runners rely on the cheers and support from the crowd. In our marathon on the road of life back to the Lord, we are encouraged by that “crowd of witnesses,” the saints, the “Church Triumphant,” cheering us on from heaven.

• If a runner stumbles, he/she gets back up again! So do we when we sin, especially through the Sacrament of Penance.

• Along the race there are those to help the ones in need. It might be a cup of water, a towel, a bandage if one is hurt, or even a professional if one is in distress. So, too, on the marathon of life, we need helpers for the weak, the afflicted, the hurt. That’s charity! 

• The competitors have to stay “on the course” or they’re disqualified. So does Jesus instruct us “to take the narrow path,” and gives us the boundaries of his teaching as our map.

• Those who reach the finish line get a reward! So do we! As St. Paul remarked, though, ours is hardly a laurel that will fade or a trophy that will tarnish...but everlasting glory!

• The marathon has judges. The course of life does, too: the Supreme Judge, Jesus Christ.

• I can only hope I’ll do better in the journey of Christian life than I ever would running the marathon!

 

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