First Reading: Sirach 17:20-24
Their iniquities are not hidden from him, and all their sins are before the Lord. A man’s almsgiving is like a signet with the Lord and he will keep a person’s kindness like the apple of his eye. Afterward he will arise and requite them, and he will bring their recompense on their heads. Yet to those who repent he grants a return, and he encourages those whose endurance is failing.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 32:1-2, 5-7
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. I acknowledged my sin to thee, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin. Therefore let every one who is godly offer prayer to thee; at a time of distress, in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. Thou art a hiding place for me, thou preservest me from trouble; thou dost encompass me with deliverance.
Gospel: Mark 10:17-27
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: `Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.” And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
Over the years, I’ve run a couple of half-marathons. To endure throughout the miles, there are a couple of tricks it was useful to have up my sleeve. My top three were: 1) continual fueling, 2) maintaining a manageable pace, and 3) zeroing in and getting pumped up by the cheering crowd, especially at the finish line.
When you run a long distance, you burn a lot of calories. To keep up your strength (and not pass out), it was important to fuel with little high-calorie goo packs every few miles.
The pace I ran over the 13.1 miles was never as fast as I could go. If I had done that, I probably wouldn’t have lasted a mile. When training, it was important to find a good pace that I could maintain throughout the entire, long distance.
That last mile always found me flagging. The cheering fans on the sidelines really helped me keep up my spirits and endure that last, hard mile to the finish line.
Certain periods or seasons of life feel like running a marathon. Finals week. Writing your thesis or dissertation. Studying for and taking a professional exam. Caring for a brood of sick children. An intense project at work. Overseeing the care of an ailing parent or grandparent. Spouses in grad school leaving you to do most of the parenting. Spouses serving overseas leaving you alone to parent.
Or juggling more than one of these things at a time.
Those three marathon tricks I mentioned? They help in running through the races of life as well.
We “fuel” with prayer and by receiving the sacraments. We find our strength in the Lord. If we are “starved” for relationship with Him, it will be more difficult to maintain steady footing. He will help us maintain our strength so that we will not falter. “Thou art a hiding place for me, thou preservest me from trouble; thou dost encompass me with deliverance.”
It is easy to feel overwhelmed with so many tasks, such a large project, so many needs needing to be fulfilled. But breaking it down into smaller tasks, focusing on the task at hand, and offering each step as a prayer to Our Lord, will help us maintain a slow and steady pace so as to win (or, at least, finish) the “race.”
There will be moments when we feel like we just can’t do one more thing, can’t wipe one more nose, stay awake one more minute, but our Lord will be there to lift us up and carry us through if we turn to Him. He is cheering for us from the sidelines. Look to Him for encouragement. He is one of our best cheerleaders. “[H]e encourages those whose endurance is failing.”
It may seem an impossibility that you will find the strength to persevere.
But! ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’
Run the race with your eyes fixed on Him.
Laurel Muff is a creator and appreciator of beautiful things. She resides with her husband and daughters in Northern California. You can find more about her here.