I would not be the first to have drawn an analogy between Lent and the rigorous spring training baseball players undergo. But I like the comparison, not only as a baseball fan but also because any sign and thought of spring stirs my soul in this dead of winter.
Lent is indeed a time in which we are asked to tone up our spirituality, to be even more conscious of the need to get back in shape and get right with God through fasting, prayer and almsgiving. All of this is to prepare us to celebrate that glorious "opening day" in our Christian faith that the first Easter miracle signified and every Easter following recalls. Lent is God’s special invitation every spring to awaken like nature, to come out of our hibernation or lethargy, to make "a sincere review of our life in light of the teachings of the Gospel," Pope Benedict says in his 2010 Lenten message.
Some of us are in better shape than others, of course, but all of us, to be sure, could use a few extra push-ups as far as our spirituality is concerned. So, in the spirit of spring — and spring training — I wonder if I might suggest the following:
- Baseball players are taught to focus, to keep their eyes on the ball. Likewise, as we work to build up our faith and relationship with God, let’s keep our eyes and focus on Christ Jesus. He is the light who will show us the way.
- Let’s hustle out there. Yes, it is hard sometimes to pray, to be charitable, or to make the sacrifice and give up that steak or roast on a Friday during Lent. The daily grind of life, work and family stress and a host of issues can weary us. But let’s try to get a second wind when it comes to God, to energize for the work of God still to be done, to be willing to sacrifice for God, and to never shirk from offering God thanks for all the blessings given us.
- Let’s remember we are a team. Christianity is about building community, working together for God’s kingdom, and about helping one another — especially those who need it most. This Lent, let’s share our Christian journey with loved ones and friends and take part in some of our parish’s community activities. As much as we can, let us strive to be a good teammate to someone who could use one.
- Remember that each and every one of us, no matter where we are in our Christian journey, is a "Rookie of the Year" and "Most Valuable Player" in God’s eyes. Even if we drop the ball once in awhile, lose focus or strike out in some un-Christian way, as all of us are likely to do, know that our merciful and forgiving God never takes us off the roster. God cheers when we put on our rally caps and try all the harder the next time.
I do hope your Lent is a beautifully nourishing one and that you will emerge refreshed and renewed as the promise of Easter rises like the sun on a new day. I pray all your hard work and sacrifice will pay off.
Just remember to keep trying: God truly wants every single one of us to hit a spiritual home run for Christ Jesus.
I won’t close by saying, "Go Yankees!" but I will say,
Peace to all.