Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 217 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Athletes of Christ

I always enjoy watching the Olympics. There are so many sports that I would never watch if it weren’t for the Olympics. I was watching diving the other day and marveled at all the complicated moves they are able to do. All of the athletes are so inspiring. We marvel at the “finished product” we see on TV, but I especially enjoying hearing the stories of all the hard work it took to get there. The training routines and years of discipline are truly inspiring. Why do they do it? …to win a gold medal of course.

St. Paul reminds us that we are competing for a much bigger prize in the competition we call life; we want to win the prize of heaven. If heaven is our goal, why would we expect that getting there would be any less difficult than winning a gold medal? The Christian life requires training and discipline. The early church gave each newly baptized Christian a new title, “Athlete of Christ.” It’s not easy to be a Christian. No one hands you a gold medal simply for showing up.

The lighting of the famous Olympic flame marks the beginning of competition at the Olympics. In our baptism we too are given a flame to mark the beginning of our race in life. The priest passes the torch as it were from the Paschal Candle to the baptismal candle and onto the parents and godparents. As he does so he says to the newly baptized, “Receive the light of Christ.” He might just as well be saying, “Let the games begin.”

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