What is it about competition, the need to be first or at least the need to beat the person next to you? I had a good friend growing up who was very competitive … he just had to win. It did help him to achieve many things on the athletic field and in his career. Most great achievers have this spirit. Roger Staubach, the famous quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys said “I never lost a game, I just ran out of time.”
Well, I think I’m more in the middle range of competitive spirits, although I do recall times where it pushed me forward. I remember a time when I was running on a track at the YMCA and this guy began to close the distance behind me…I could hear his feet pounding … well I was not going to let this guy pass me, so I sped up, faster and faster…it became a matter of “manhood”. It was like Chariot of Fire…I could hear the music, and I won ….. what a victory. When I looked behind to see the “track star” I had beaten, the guy was on crutches and weighed over 500 pounds…. hmmmm.
Judy and I frequently walk and say a rosary on our street; three laps are a mile. When we get to the top of the street we turn around; often I feel a need to go a bit farther than Judy before we turn around; YES, I picture myself winning this little competition and getting the huge trophy for going the farthest, presented by Jesse Owens who won 4 gold medals in the 1936 Olympics. You can hear the roar of the crowd…”Dave’s number one…Dave’s number one.” Judy is awarded a very nice “crayon-drawn” certificate for second place by a lady from the nursing home. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit…I’m not really that bad. And just to let you know, Judy can be a bit competitive herself when playing cards…. some would say “cutthroat”, but I think that’s going a bit too far.
What’s the point of this cleverly crafted BLOG. Using St. Mark’s “plain street language style of Greek” (ref. Mary Healey in 4-25-22 Magnificat), I would say that Jesus had an “anti-competitive approach”, with Christianity being a “race for last place, and the last being first”. At the same time, we want to outdo one another in holiness, and run with perseverance the race before us. As St. Paul said, “ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Tim. 4:7-8)
So in regards to loving our brothers and sisters, let’s put them ahead of us, let’s be quick to serve, let’s put aside that competitive spirit. But regarding giving all to loving and serving the Lord and growing in holiness, let’s be fierce, and let’s run the race with perseverance.
As a footnote, Roger Staubach, while very competitive on the football field and in the real estate business, was also a very strong Catholic man who has helped many people with great humility and love, putting God and his neighbor before himself.