Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
(Philippians 3:3-8a; Luke 15:1-10)
Joe Fitzgerald played handball at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He had trained hard – seven days a week, twice a day except Sunday -- and became proficient. He also quarterbacked his college football team. He is handsome and evidently articulate. Yet, like St. Paul writes in his Letter to the Philippians, despite these promising professional attributes, he decided to follow Christ.
Paul is not ashamed to boast about his Jewish background. He mentions his tribe, his observance, even his zeal in pursuing rivals of Judaism. Then an encounter with Christ turned his life on end. Joe Fitzgerald mentioned in an interview that he had been living in a way that was not pleasing to God. Knowing that being lukewarm was not an option, he decided to enter the seminary. At the time of the interview, years after he was ordained, he said he was “very happy” as a priest. Paul is even more upbeat. He writes that he considers every trait and accomplishment as a loss in comparison to knowing Christ Jesus.
We too know him. Perhaps we do not experience Paul’s euphoria because we listen to him with our ears waxed and our vision filtered. We may spend too much time following the news and not enough attending to the gospel. There he repeatedly tells us how much he loves us. He tells us today that he would risk everything to find us. There is no reason to be disturbed by news reports if we just trust in him.