COMPETING WELL, FINISHING & KEEPING THE FAITH


SOLEMNITY OF STS. PETER & PAUL
June 29, 2014

COMPETING WELL, FINISHING, & KEEPING THE FAITH

We live in times where multi-tasking seems to be the run of the day. We attend meetings left and right, but even as we try our best to follow all the proceedings, our smartphones are busy beeping, chirping, chiming or burping, as the case may be, calling our attention to a thousand-and-one concerns that are all collectively called “notifications.” We turn on the coffee-maker first thing in the morning, even as we boot our laptops, or pick up our tablets to look for the MMDA app that tells us what we already know – that traffic is bad like any other day, and that so-called alternate routes are simply make-believe alternate routes, for everyone has exactly the same idea!

We begin so many tasks. We start so many campaigns. We call for so many rallies and sign up to so many petitions. We begin so many faddish diets and we enroll ourselves in every program, from zumba to swimming, to snorkeling, and all, and when vacation days come around, we end up merely snoring our way to our rest day. We stock up on all possible reading materials. We store up on everything on sale. We start a project to redo the kitchen, and we end up buying “to go” food on every occasion, or suffer the consequences of a fast-food diet oozing with salt, spices, and oil and that much dreaded, but poorly understood “trans-fats.”

We put up an initial gallant fight against all imaginable oppressors, mostly from within, rather that from without. We open the new year with a gallant resolution, broadcasted for effect on social media, pinned on pinterest, and instantly published through instagram, and publicly posted on pages, fb or otherwise!

We compete but seldom complete. We start, but very seldom see through to fulfillment. We set out in faith, but keeping to the tenets of the same faith is a totally different matter.

We could be heroes without causes; rebels without reason nor rhyme; and visionaries without commitment.

The Lord had many followers. Many of them were fair-weather followers, truth be told. A great many followed with their stomachs and merely followed the scent of food. A good number followed the Lord wherever he went, but stopped short of being with him and dying with him at Calvary. Why, even the leader of the Band of Brothers – no less than Peter himself, denied him three times, before a harmless, but definitely very curious and inquisitive maiden who asked him point blank: “Aren’t you one of them?”

Today, we remember that follower and his momentary loss of resolve – if, loss of dedication and courage! Peter was at the top of the heap, not out of his own choice and decision, but called personally by the Lord. Paul was a Johnny-come-Lately who “was born out of normal course,” but who was an apostle “true and through.”

Both showed moments of weakness. Both showed not so honorable streaks in their personalities. Paul was persecutor and hater. Peter was not too sure he should tell the whole truth about himself that fine cold night when he was asked point blank by the curious maiden.

Both started out with trepidation and fear. Both had initial misgivings. Both showed they were not totally cut out for the job. But both did what they knew they were sent to do. Both grew in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, and did what was expected of them. Both became great saints, great apostles, great disciples, and great models for us weaklings, who cannot even stay one hour at a meeting without checking surreptitiously on our smartphones for the latest post, the latest message, and yes  … the latest update on our latest gadget.

There is greatness in starting big. But it is easy to start, and not that easy to keep on going when everyone around you has fallen down like flies. It is easy to sprint for the first few minutes, but very difficult to keep on running when everyone else has gotten to the sidelines, sipping cold ice tea, or running one’s fingers on a signature cup of coffee with everyone else nursing a similar cup while frantically exercising one’s finger muscles and tapping apps and icons on a glass pane with retina displays.

There is greatness in starting, but there is heroism and martyrdom on “competing well, finishing the race, and keeping the faith.”

And this, my dear friends, is what Peter and Paul did. They went beyond the initial oath-taking and partying when they inaugurated the club called “Apostles Incorporated.” They went beyond saying, “I will follow you wherever you go,” but at the first sign of trouble, all the rest of us would rather mutter, “Hold it right there … I don’t think I can make it.!”

Yes, dear friends, heroism and martyrdom are synonymous with being Christian followers. Discipleship is not just posting statuses and updating apps. It has to do with competing well, with finishing fully, and with keeping to the faith.

Oh, did I say anything about shedding one’s blood and surrendering one’s will to Him, who alone is God, who alone is Lord, and who alone holds the ultimate victory that we all are staking our lives for?

So, now, get off your digitally engorged asses and start working. Compete. Fight on. Finish up, and keep the faith!

At the other side of the race track is not just a rainbow or a ribbon. At the end of this mortal life is – life in its fullness, eternal life, with Him up there in heaven, our only true home! Fair enough? You bet!

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