Not he who begins but he that perseveres to the end shall be saved.
A few days ago my friend texted me to say that he would be competing in a Charity marathon to raise funds for the poor and that this run would be telecast on television.
I was intrigued and as I began thinking I realised that we could draw a lot of similarities between the marathon and our spiritual journey.
- They are tests of endurance.
Both involve commitment, dedication, great hunger and passion. They aren’t one day impromptu performances but rather they involve months of training.
- Amateurs struggle.
Just like any first timer would struggle to run the marathon, so also our spiritual journey is a struggle in the beginning. Praying is difficult. Making time is difficult and so on.
- There are many stumbling blocks.
In marathons runners have to deal with the scorching sun and sometimes even rain, fatigue, dehydration, distractions from screaming fans and so on. Our spiritual journey too has many stumbling blocks. They could be pride, selfishness, anger, fear, laziness, indifference, distractions like social media, friends and so on.
- Not everyone finishes.
Thousands may start the race. But just like in a marathon where people may give up along the way, so also in our spiritual journey. Many find it hard to accept the teachings of Jesus (Jn 6:60) and tend to give up and often leave the Catholic Church entirely.
- There is always a winner.
Many start the race. But those who have trained and prepared well, those who are at the peak of their fitness win marathons.
In our spiritual journey too, many want the rewards and benefits that being a follower of Christ has to offer. But people aren’t ready to train and equip themselves with the word of God, with the Church teachings, praying rosaries, frequenting the sacraments and so on.
Whilst we can draw plenty of other comparisons between the two, the key is to understand that neither is easy, but that the rewards of both are very sweet. Christ never promised us that we would have no struggles or problems if we followed Him. However He most definitely promised to be with us every step of the way.
Often you may feel that it is useless following Christ and his teachings, especially when you see others who don’t follow him succeeding while you are struggling. I urge you to continue along your spiritual journey even if you feel like giving up.
Though sinners do evil a hundred times and prolong their lives, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they stand in fear before him. (Eccl 8:12)
Anyone can start a difficult journey and abandon it when the going gets tough, but it takes great courage, determination, dedication, zeal, fortitude and patience to complete the journey.
We must often remember what Christ said, that not he who begins but he that perseveres to the end shall be saved. (St. Philip Neri)
Then you can say:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2Tim 4:7-8)