Every year at about this time I begin to experience an inner itch. The doldrums of winter are upon me, and the baseball season is still months away. With much anticipation I look forward to the start of spring training, followed by the crack of the bat and the pop of the glove on opening day.
The flourishing of the baseball season is a guarantee every spring and summer. The flourishing of our lives, however, is not. Time and time again we fail to thrive in our Christian vocation to live in the image of God. Even when the opportunity of a new season presents itself, we often turn away from all that will make us truly happy. We keep ourselves in the doldrums of winter.
The Catechism teaches us that, although sin does not destroy the image of God in us, it does deprive us of remaining in God’s glory (CCC 705). To remain in God’s glory means pushing back against the hold sin has in our lives, breaking free of its grip, and allowing ourselves to move freely: it means flourishing.
Just as each game in a baseball season is an opportunity to tally one more win, so each day of our lives is an opportunity to win a victory over sin. And just as no team will go undefeated in a 162-game season, so none of us will live perfectly sinless lives. But if we get up each day and consistently push back against the selfishness of sin, we can come out with a winning record.
No team wins the World Series in one game; and no human being achieves conversion in a moment. It takes the grind of the whole season; it takes the grind of our whole life. It means saying a deeper “yes” to God’s offerings of grace each day: seizing opportunities to grow in patience; learning to be prudent in the words we speak; being just a little more generous with our time; treating others with genuine kindness (both those we like and those we don’t); accepting our responsibilities with fortitude despite their inherent difficulties; being attentive to the needs of others; showing mercy and compassion to others when we witness their personal failings and imperfections; honestly admitting our own faults and failings; and offering moments of thanks to God throughout the day.
These are just a few examples, but, as grace can make each moment of our day a little “yes” to God, the grace of perseverance can make our whole lifetime a “yes” to Him. Grace, if we allow it to work in our lives, can free us from the grip of sin. Grace, which is the glory of God begun in us now, can transform us in such a way that we not only aim to be happy, but indeed are happy.
Image: Winter in Prospect Park, 1904; Brooklyn, New York