The spiritual life is like an athletic competition. Just as training the body is a necessary part of the quest for excellence in sports, as Christ’s disciples we are to exert great effort in the battle against selfishness through the rigorous disciplining of our souls. Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it (1 Corinthians 9:24). Exercising spiritual self-control is all the more necessary since the stakes of the Christian life are far higher than any athletic competition: to be disqualified from this race means to forfeit the prize of heaven itself (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Hence the blessing of this Advent season. When Christ comes, in what condition will He find us? By recalling each year His first coming over two-thousand years ago, we are conditioning ourselves to be able to meet Him at His Second Coming. Will we have shown that we “love the things of heaven”, or will we have succumbed to selfishness, loving the “passing things” that we walk amidst? This is the challenge of the spiritual life and if we are resolved to run toward Christ and present Him with righteous deeds, do this:
- Reflect upon all God has done for us in salvation history (catholicexchange.com/gods-outline-salvation-history), giving thanks for all His blessings;
- Show our thanks by being of service to others, for by doing that in imitation of Christ, room is made in our hearts and lives for Him to be with us;
- Deepen our relationship with Christ through the development of a robust prayer life, and the regular celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the worthy reception of Holy Communion.
Or, we could run away from Christ. But that is folly, for only He can provide us that which endures.
David J. Conrad