Isaiah 53:4-12; Psalm 91:9-16; Hebrews 4:12-16; Mark 10:35-45
22 October 2000
After the Olympics, glory seems to be on my mind. All the athletes strive for glory by winning a gold, silver or bronze medal. The best athletic performance in the world makes these winners role models in their home countries, it makes them wealthy through advertising endorsements and it makes them celebrities in everyone's eyes. We tune in the television to see swimmers cutting through the water effortlessly or we watch as the winners are awarded their medals literally in a moment of glory.
What we don't see behind that smiling face on the winner's stand is the twenty years of daily 5:30 AM swimming workouts, the bone tired fatigue, the single-minded dedication to the sport while often declining social and family events. What we don't see is the occasional question of whether it is all worth the effort. When we look at an Olympic gold medallist on the winner's stand we often fail to realize that the road to this moment of glory involved much sacrifice, pain and doubt.
But these thoughts about world-class athletes do not clearly reflect today's Gospel message about God's glory revealed through Christ nor do they reflect the opposite of worldly glory. The lack of clarity in this first example results from the fact that for most athletes, their motivations are mixed. In one sense the athlete strives to achieve the perfect swimming stroke or the perfect golf stroke or perfection in any sport. This motivation is pure and comes closest to art and religion in that the motivation is directed outside of the athlete. At the same time, every athlete, indeed every human revels in achieving some degree of personal glory. Face it, we all like some positive attention every now and then. In this year's Olympics for example one swimmer immodestly suggested she should melt down all her gold medals and have them made into a fashionable evening dress.
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