Run the Race
I gave a retreat last July to the employees of St. Teresa’s College (STC) at the Schoenstatt Retreat House. In my conversation with them during break, I got to know that two among them were members of the Ultra Runners’ Club. They were preparing to join a 100 kilometers Ultra Marathon Run from Tabuelan, a western Cebu town and end up in Family Park, in Talamban, Cebu City. It is a tough and grueling run that passes through the Trans-central Highway in Balamban. I met one of them again on the first week of August. I asked him about his run. Enthusiastically he announced in Bisaya: “I made it at the 10thplace!”
Running a race is tiring and exhausting. To join a long distance run, one needs to train and practice. One has to be on the road constantly.
The 2nd Reading today (Hebrews 12:1-4) likens life to a race. The marathon is used as a metaphor. To put ourselves in context, the Letter to the Hebrews was written on a time when Early Christians were in danger of apostasy. Tired and weary as they were of the demands of Christian life, they were tempted to abandon their faith in Jesus. Thus this letter was meant to encourage them never to give up. It exhorts them to persevere in running the race.
This same Letter continues to teach us 3 things today:
1. We all have races to run
The fact is, we all have difficulties to endure in our life. We have work to do; projects to make; toil and trouble we need to carry. We will have fears and worries that occupy us; snares to be avoided and temptations to be resisted.
One popular television series on GMA Network is Survior Philippines. It is a reality competition originally based from the show “Expedition Robinson” created in 1997 by Charlie Parsons. The show is currently hosted by Richard Gutierrez. The show gathers a number of contestants stranded on an isolated area for a pre-determined number of days until one remains and is given the title Pinoy Sole Survivor.Aside from the title, the winner also receives P3 Million (around US$65,000), the largest cash prize in the history of Philippine reality game shows.
Life is like a race for survival. At the end of which, a bigger prize awaits those who have endured. In this race there will be obstacles and stumbling blocks along the way. The race is for everybody. Whether young or old, the struggles remain. The cross is a basic reality in our lives which we cannot avoid. As long as we live, the race is on.
2. We have to run with patience
The challenge is this: we must keep to the course. We have to pray for perseverance and strength. The difficulties and temptations might be so strong that like the Israelites in the desert, we complain from the ordeal we face. The Israelites, in fact, yearned to go back to Egypt as they remembered the “cucumbers, the melons, the garlic and onions” they used to enjoy.
I have experienced joining a 21 kilometer distance run. As the run progresses, I heal my self-talk discouraging me: its too tiresome.. just walk… give up.. you can’t make it. Along the way, a psychological battle rages within me; an inner struggle takes place. I have to motivate myself to endure; to persevere; to stand firm and hang on. This is the same in our life. We need to motivate ourselves by injecting positive thoughts in our minds. We tell ourselves: today is the cross, tomorrow is the crown; today is the sowing, tomorrow is the harvest; today is the battle, tomorrow is the rest.
3. We fix our gaze on Jesus
Finally, what helps us persevere is looking at Jesus. We make him our inspiration. In Matthew 14, there is an episode of Jesus walking on the sea. The disciples saw him from afar and they were terrified. Jesus assures them: “Do not be afraid. It is I.” At this point, Peter shouts: “Lord, if it is really you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus commands: “Come!” Thus Peter steps out of the boat and begins to walk on the water towards Jesus. But then he got distracted by the big waves and the strong wind. He lost his focus on Jesus so he began to sink.
When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can rise above our troubles and concerns. It is the secret of serenity and peace in our lives amidst the turmoil of the world. It is the secret of enduring hardships.
In writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul encourages him to be faithful to his task. There is a reward for being faithful up to the end. “Endure hardships.. fulfill your ministry.. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4).Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.