"Ball one, strike two!" I can still hear the radio announcer's voice calling out the scores for the Cleveland Indians' games my father listened to as he did chores outdoors or in the barn. As I grew older I also learned about soccer and American football. Once in my all girl 7th grade gym class our teacher handed out a paper with sketches of football referees and their many hand signals. Since I thought it was just "extra" information, I never studied it. Ooouch! It happened that she gave us a pop-up test on that referee sheet. That was the only "F" grade I remember receiving! Dismal as it was that grade did not dampen my interest in sports. My final high school year I rejoiced when my high school became co-champions of our city's football league. During my high school years, some Hungarian refugees in our area initiated a new sport: soccer. I remember watching soccer games on a polo field, since we had no suitable place for this game of bouncing a ball without touching it with any hands. Since then, soccer has grown into a sport much loved by American and Canadians. We are rather "later bloomers" in the soccer stands, however we play with all our hearts.
As a citizen in a sports-minded political world, St. Paul used imagery from sports when he wrote about how he felt at the end of his life. He said, "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of rightwousness" ( 2 Tim. 4:7-8).
As we wait to see who will capture the crown at the World Cup, or the trophy for the NBA, we could imitate St. Paul and see how we are doing in our spiritual life. Am I running with Christ? Keeping my eyes on the ball, that is the "life lived in Christ"? Paul kept his eyes on the Prize, Jesus Christ. So he won the race.
May we shine as spiritual athletes as Paul did.
now I wait the crown."