More on the Rumble ‘at the Cross’

My son Adrian teaches high school in a really neat Catholic high school in Toronto. This week he has been asked to do ‘the prayers and devotions’ for students. He took one of my ‘talks’ and created a briefer version of it.

I hope you like Adrian’s rendition. By the way, Adrian has a solid Masters in English literature. I think you will notice that in this short but inspiring piece.

These are my 3 very amazing, healthy and strong sons. Adrian’s got the cool tie on.

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This week I want to talk to you about sports.

Bishop Allen is good at sports. We have every team here, and we’re getting good at all of them.

And often it’s easy to miss how connected sports are to our lives at Catholics. Because the parallels between what we do as athletes are almost identical to what we ought to do as Christians. I’d like to discuss sports with you this week and show just how much being a Christian is like being an athlete.

So I’ll start today with boxing.

I take you back to 1974. It’s the heavyweight championship between George Foreman and Mohammed Ali, a fight referred to as the Rumble in the Jungle. Before the fight began, Ali knew that he was going to encounter Foreman’s thunderous body shots. Big, powerful punches that could cave in his ribcage. And realizing that he wouldn’t be able to avoid them, he decided he was just going to have to take them.

So what he did was positioned himself along the ropes. When Foreman threw a bomb, Ali took it, but because he was against the rope, he was able to let the rope absorb the force of the blow. Time and time again Ali took these punches, tiring Foreman out.

According to legend—and confirmed last night by Wikipedia—late in the match, after taking Foreman’s most powerful canons, Ali whispered into Foreman’s ear, “Is that all you’ve got?” to which Foreman is supposed to have replied, “yes, that’s pretty much it.”

Ali soon knocked Foreman down and won the championship.

But here’s what this boxing match teaches us about being a Christian.

Life is not about how hard you can hit others. It’s actually about how much you can take. Like Ali on the ropes. Life—particularly as a Christian—is about how much disappointment and insults and discouragement you can take and keep moving forward to serve other people.

And that’s where Jesus comes in. He becomes our rope.

He allows us to take those shots and not fall down. He allows us to take those shots and bounce back. And, most importantly, he allows us to take those shots and actually become better and stronger, and ironically, more loving, because of them.

So when life is really hard—or even when it’s not—lean on that rope. It won’t break, and soon you’ll find that when life hits hard, you’ll also be able to say, “Is that it?”

Amen.

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Posted on April 17, 2012, in spirituality. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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