Today’s readings invite us to reflect upon endurance. Our second reading from Hebrews 12:5-7 says, “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” This reality is prevalent on the college campus, especially at the start of a new school year. Our school year is just beginning; we’ve attended our first classes; and now we have to decide to endure for the first semester.
Discipline that eventually brings peace can be symbolized by a race. A race, no matter what length, is technically just the time between when the gun fires to the moment when the finish line is crossed. However, a race is so much more than that. A race begins with practice. Marathon runners spend months training for that final moment. Training takes place almost everyday. Training doesn’t stop because it is raining. It doesn’t stop for Christmas. It doesn’t stop for anything. Sometimes it happens at five in the morning before work. Other times it happens on a Friday night. Sometimes, it means turning down a drink even though everyone else is enjoying the moment.
Marathon running and any kind of running requires discipline, and it definitely is not always fun. Training hurts. Training runs of 19 miles shred your muscles and leave every part of your body aching in pain. It leaves you exhausted, hungry, and dirty. The bottom line is that discipline is not easy. Racing isn’t easy either. During one of my races, my legs froze up, and I face planted. I wanted to quit right there, but instead I crawled on my hands and knees to the finish line. Paramedics picked me up in a wheel chair at the finish line, but I finished.
We have to be strong in faith. The discipline of everyday faith and love prepares us for race day. We never know when God will call us to race; we never know when our gun will go off; and we will never know when our finish line will come. We have to be gutsy and dare to keep going even when we are hurting. Our gospel today says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”
Even though I crawled on my hands and knees to the finish line, I finished. I will always remember that I finished, and I have huge peace from that accomplishment. God promises that if we strive to enter the narrow gate, we will find peace when we enter it. Endure before and during your “race” whatever your race is today, tomorrow, and forever. You can do it and guess what…the end of your race will bring peace!