Selflessness is not an easy quality to obtain and requires work to maintain, moment by moment, to put others ahead of one’s own wants and needs. Selflessness is challenged and strengthened through sacrifice, a message which I was prompted to realize through the sharing of time with two college friends this weekend. I was blessed to hear my friend give his first homily as a newly ordained Deacon, the last step before he is to become an ordained priest. His passion and trust overwhelming touched the congregation who stood joyfully to offer back a standing ovation. He is offering his life to others in an amazing way, but reminded us all that we are called share our gift of faith and to be open to whatever God is calling us towards. Segue to my other friend who is answering her own call to serve as a teacher, but is going beyond the daily challenges of a Catholic school sixth grade classroom to physically sacrifice throughout each mile along the roads from San Diego, CA to Annapolis, MD in a fundraising effort to enable one child the opportunity of a Catholic formative education from K-8th grade.
I mention both friends [who hail from the Lehigh Valley and are products of Catholic education, including our Jesuit alma mater, The University of Scranton] not to compare their offerings to one another or even to our own, and not to boast that I have some pretty amazing friends [which I do :)]. I mention both because of their simplistic approach to giving of themselves to others in their own unique way on a daily basis. Yes, these examples may appear on a grander scale than the norm, however serving as a Deacon and biking across the country are but tangible outlets which provide insight to how they live their daily lives. Both are showing us the fruit of God’s labor when open to the workings of the Spirit within; you might say the deaconship and ride across the USA are results of their openness, but in truth, it’s just the beginning of an unforeseen impact their answer of “yes” has on others.
In application to the sporting world, we can break down any achievement of a goal, any trial and error, any leadership decision not popular but made for the betterment of the team, any recovery from an injury, and any relationship gained through sport through the lens of selflessness and sacrifice. All of those mentioned moments are not easy and sometimes we turn over the ball, sometimes we hit the boards, sometimes we commit an unnecessary foul at an inopportune time. If we even only sometimes dwell on those mistakes, we are self-consumed and unable to see what we are called to create out of that single moment. When we play with our teammates in mind, and we look to gain the point or possession back for them and not out of self-redemption, we are liberated with a trust in something greater than our individual self.
If we look to what gifts we were given individually and work to give the best version of ourselves, one moment and one day at a time, we might just look up and realize that we are sharing our joy with others and peddling across our own Rocky Mountains and plains of Indiana.