Hello Everyone. I hope this 8th day of September, the first day of the new school year finds all of you well, safe and rested from a beautiful summer. Today I want to share a wonderful story I received a couple months ago from a fellow Catholic member of our community. It’s about about a special priest, Father O. It’s entitled “A tale of two coaches”.
In the sixth grade Fr O tried out for the track and field team. He already acquired quick bursts of speed while vaulting regularly over objects while being chased by various “competitors”, so he thought he could use his skills in a more structured way.
Track practices were in the mornings before school and very quickly he became clear that Fr. O was one of the fastest kids on the team. As a result he didn’t feel he needed to attend practice daily. A couple of weeks later, new kid arrived at the school with previous track experience, so the coach wanted him to try out for a spot on the team. Because of Fr. O’s attendance at practice the coach decided to have Fr. O race this new student for a one – time winner-take-all sprint to determine the last position on the team. Fr. O lost by a few inches and was subsequently cut from the team.
He said he learned a valuable lesson that day, that no matter how good you think you are, it is only when you are put to the test that you find out just how good you really are. He also learned to respect the need for discipline in trying to reach goals in life. Instead of feeling disciplined and rejected by the coach for not showing up to practices, he could have accepted the coaching discipline of gradually building his skills beyond what he could have done for himself.
When Jesus asks us to take up our cross and follow Him, many people are often repelled by the thought of what happened to him will happen to us. They see the cross as struggling to the finish line of where they will end up instead of as the starting point of shedding their burdens to help them move beyond it.
Jesus is like this great coach who says come follow me, show up for all the practices and follow my examples, put in the effort and I will help you to achieve something beyond what you are capable of on your own. Jesus describes His coaching style as more of a yoke that keeps us connected to Him while He guides us towards our goal.
Allowing someone to guide and teach us may seem like a loss of our freedom, but it is actually the easiest way to free up the hidden potential within us.
The famous artist Michelangelo, when asked how it is that he creates such beautiful sculptures out of large chunks of stone, once said he chisels away the unnecessary material that is covering the statue hidden within. Jesus sees our true value and helps us to remove the barriers that hold us back from realizing our hidden potential, one step, one lesson at a time.
Jesus will stand by our side because He knows the greatness hidden within us and how to set us free, He is someone who will be right there to help us when we fall and stumble, find us when we get lost, or give us hope when we have given up. He is someone who helps us here and now get to a place of victory over the things that hold us back from where we want to be. This is the gentle discipline that Jesus offers us, we just need pass Him the chisel and hammer and let Him set us free.
Great “food for thought” from Father “O” this first day of a new school year, on this cool morning of new September beginnings. Have a wonderful day everybody. Love