A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 9:16-19, 22b-27 Brothers and sisters: If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the Gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel. Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the Gospel, so that I too may have a share in it. Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
REFLECTION: Run so as to win.
Colorado Springs, Colorado, became the headquarters for the United States Olympic Committee in 1978. The Olympic House was in the former NORAD (North American Air Defense Command) building. NORAD's job was to monitor the skies over North America for intercontinental ballistic missiles and warheads. The Air Base was the center for responding to and monitoring the Cold War. It left behind on its walls targeted maps of the Soviet Union.
This move for the Olympic Committee seemed appropriate as the "air" of readiness was already in the building. The US Olympic and Paralympic Complex in Colorado Springs is the flagship training center and is able to house, dine and train over 500 athletes and coaches at one time. A visit to the center shows how hard and how disciplined the life of a top athlete has to be to succeed. Athletes put in hours and hours of training and practice with one goal in mind--that Olympic medal. If they don't devote all their time to practice they may be cut from the team.
We cannot predict when our final race will be run. St Paul is asking us to be spiritual athletes, not give up and not skip practice from time to time. It is a continuous race, bidding others to follow the Head Coach, Jesus, in the struggle with the world and our flesh to get to heaven. And we need to bring others with us. Many may say, "I believe in God and I am good. I don't need to go on retreats, conferences, bible study or go to confession or Mass". But...even the devil believes in God. Don't we want to know all about Jesus our Savior and Redeemer? Don't we want others to join us in Heaven for eternity? Is that not what Jesus has asked of us? Any earthly medals or crowns will not be remembered when we pack for our final destination.
Run so as to win.
God Bless You