Father Gamm's homily Sunday at St. Paul was absolutely spot-on -- for me, anyway.
I asked him after a Mass for a copy of his talk, and he obliged.
I share it here because I think it has meaning for everyone, regardless of faith tradition. I found so much meaning in the sentiment; I hope it inspires you, as well:
On the golf course called “Old Silo,” on the back nine, there is a hole where you have to walk over a foot bridge to get to the green. It is interesting in that there are no handrails on the bridge. I remember playing there one day, and as I started to cross the bridge, I got pretty phobic and anxious and hollered to the guys in my foursome that I was getting scared and freaking out.
One of them yelled back at me, “Padre, it got to me too. Just look forward, don’t look down. Look at me, look at me. You’ll be all right!”
So I looked straight at him and kept walking. And I was OK.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel today, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Eric Lidell was England’s fastest 100-meter runner in the 1924 Olympics. He was expected to take the gold in that race. When the schedule of events came out, the 100-meter race was scheduled on a Sunday, and Eric’s interpretation of keeping the Lord’s day would not let him race on Sunday. So he declined!
The Prince of Wales tried to talk him into violating his conscience. Newspapers called him a traitor to his country. He got grief from pretty much everyone, but he still refused to run. Instead, he suggested a teammate run the 100 and he would run the 400 – a race he had not run before. To make a long story short, Eric won the 400 and his teammate won the 100, giving England not one, but two gold medals.
Eric never looked back. Once he decided to follow his conscience – follow Jesus – he kept looking forward, in spite of public pressure, in spite of being labeled a traitor. In the 1980s, the movie “Chariots of Fire” centered around Eric and those Olympic Games.
What was behind his courage? What made him steadfast and loyal? Eric Lidell spent the first hour of every morning reading the Bible, praying and planning his day. He kept his hand to the plow, did not look back, because he met Jesus face to face each morning in prayer.
If we’re having trouble keeping focused on Jesus, if we’re having trouble keeping our hand to the plow, if we’re experiencing anxiety or worry in our lives, maybe we should consider making some kind of daily commitment. What should that commitment be? What should it involve? Bible reading, a holy hour, prayer, study or simply attending Mass – no one can say. It’s up to us.
But it is important to make that commitment, to stay focused, to look forward in order to be fit for the kingdom of God.
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