My Jesus is Tough, Like a Coach, Calling Us to Excellence!

by Fr Richard Heilman | August 25, 2019 6:35 pm

If you still believe Jesus was effete and soft and careful not to “trigger” anybody. Maybe you believe, as some do, that “the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect,” and that “the love of Jesus” means he gives us big fat pass on our sins because avoiding them is simply beyond our capabilities.

Well, if this is still your Jesus, I suspect you missed Mass the last three Sundays, or slept through the reading of the Gospels. Here’s what you missed …

Sunday, August 11

Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
And the Lord replied,
“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed in coming,’
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant’s master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly.

Sunday, August 18

Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Sunday, August 25

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.

Wait … What?! Didn’t Jesus get the memo that we are all vulnerable and simply victims of our circumstances? Shouldn’t our churches be safe spaces where nothing is too demanding … nothing too divisive, so they will be more attractive and “inviting” to all of us “snowflakes” who melt at the least little challenge set before us?

Given the current parlance, I find the wording of the vision at Fatima very interesting:

The children of Fatima were shown a vision of Hell by the Virgin Mary where souls were falling into Hell like snowflakes in a snowstorm.

Listen, Jesus was not establishing a Church that was a “collection of the coddled.” He was calling us to do battle; to face down evil and rebuke it; to be willing to risk it all; to be martyrs. Authentically spiritual people will always be opposed.

So much effort, in the past several decades, has been placed on “softening Jesus.” Maybe the intentions of religious leaders was to grow their numbers by making the demands of faith easy and effortless. Yet, this portrayal of an effete Jesus and, therefore, effete religious leaders has been an abysmal disaster.

The plain truth is that we are all hardwired to rise up in the face of evil. Here, I am thinking about World War I and World War II. When a great evil arose in the world and threatened our country’s faith, freedom and family, there was hardly a man who did not, immediately, stand in the long lines at the recruitment stations. “Not under my watch,” these brave men said by their willingness to put their very lives on the line for the life and liberty of their nation.

Catholicism and all of Christianity has become thinned out and weak. Evil is surging all around us. What is needed now, more than ever, is for our leaders to call us to “become strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Eph. 6:12).

Inspired by a tough Jesus, St. Paul talks about a strict training and a desire to run in such a way as to win (1 Cor 9:24-27[1]). Coach Vince Lombardi would’ve heard these words from St. Paul many times in his life, as he went to Mass every day (often as an altar server at the Traditional Latin Mass). In fact, he admitted, “I derive my strength from daily Mass and Communion.” As Coach Lombardi describes the heart of a man, see if you don’t recognize a bit of St. Paul in his words:

“And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat. I don’t say these things because I believe in the ‘brute’ nature of men or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour — his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear — is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle — victorious.”

Coach Lombardi also said this:

“Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.

Leaders, you want more souls in the pews? Quit coddling them! Stop with the “safe spaces!” Openly alert us to the aggressive forces of evil – Call it out! – and beckon us to rise, strive for excellence and fight!

My Jesus is Tough, Like a Coach, Calling Us to Excellence!

Endnotes:
  1. 1 Cor 9:24-27: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+9%3A24-27&version=NIV

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