What do George Washington, Jack Dempsey, Mao Zedong, Michael Jordon, Niccolò Machiavelli and Vince Lombardi have in common? Think hard. Hmmmmm let’s see, they all played for the Green Bay Packers, noooo; they were all Chinese…., nooooo. Okay, I give up. Well, they all allegedly said “the best defense is a good offense”.
“The best defense is a good offense is an adage that has been applied to many fields of endeavor, including games and military combat. It is also known as the strategic offensive principle of war. Generally, the idea is that proactivity (a strong offensive action) instead of a passive attitude will preoccupy the opposition and ultimately hinder its ability to mount an opposing counterattack, leading to a strategic advantage.” (Wikipedia) The phrase seems to be widely held in sports, politics, war, and even in life.
In thinking of my own life, I can tend to do the opposite…..playing defense is my most natural approach. In ping pong, I’m not a great offensive player, but I ‘m able to return the ball…waiting for my opponent to make an error…. often it worked. In other fields, I would find myself holding back a bit until I could get the “lay of the land”…”playing defense”, until I knew what was going on.
Yet, in the spiritual life I believe going on the offense is the key to success. Well, how do you do that? Praying daily is the great first offensive play of the day. Begin your day with prayer… give the day to the Lord, ask for new mercies as the day begins, intercede for those in need, get to mass as able, put on the armor of God (Eph. 6). “Get your head on straight”.
Certainly we always need to be ready for the attack of the devil. As St. Peter tells us, “ Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1Peter 4:12) Nevertheless, let’s not just sit back in the corner waiting for the devil to show up. Let’s actively love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind, and strength…and love our neighbor as our self. Let’s look for ways to take the offensive, to actively show kindness to our neighbor, to look for ways to be generous, to care for the sick and suffering, to give alms. I know when I do that , I have a better day. When I take the “offense”, I spend less time on “defense”…trying to keep the enemy out of my end zone.
Well, in all of this we need a good coach to tell us when to switch our strategies from offense to defense or visa versa. In football, Vince Lombardi was a great football coach, but in life we have an even better coach… “the Great Holy Spirit”. The Holy Spirit will direct our every move, always anticipating what’s coming around the corner. He will tell us when to swing the sword of the spirit or when to hold up the shield of faith. So, let’s keep our head up and our ear attuned to the Holy Spirit, and “all will be well with our soul”…and in the end we will be victorious.