Central Idea: Christ calls us to follow him, the Way, avoiding the rough places of sin, bitterness, rage and hatred.
I am the way, and the truth and the life.
I know its dangerous swinging a golf club in a church. But don’t worry! To paraphrase an old golf joke, this is my sand wedge and I assure you I have never hit anything with it.
Golf is really a simple game. You hit this little ball and try to get it into a hole in the ground. So if it is so simple, why aren’t we all Tiger Woods? Well. . .
The key to golf is to try to keep the ball in the correct places on the course. For the uninitiated, it’s called the fairway. You do not have to be a genius to recognize that golf is a lot easier if you keep hitting your ball on the fairway. First and foremost, if you do you can usually find it. That’s a big plus! It is easier to look for a ball in the middle of an open space than to try to find it in tall grass or a forest. Trust me. I have a lot experience at this!
Second, it is easier to hit the ball off nice soft level low grass than it is to hit it from thick grass, or from under a bush or a tree or a rock or an automobile or out of a pond or a creek. Once again, trust my wisdom and experience on this.
Finally, hitting the ball from the fairway gives you the best angles to what is called the green or the pin. Basically it gives you the best shot for achieving your ultimate goal.
So, your first golf lesson is the most important, keep the ball on the fairway.
“Jesus said, ‘I am the way. . .”
Life is really pretty simple. You are born, you live and you die. Along the way you aim for your goals, you learn to live for others. So, if it is so simple, why aren’t we all saints? Or why are we so unhappy? Or why is it so difficult? Well. . .
It is scary how much like golf, life is. You play enough golf you begin to see some amazing comparisons. Keeping your life in the fair way is the key to life; it is the key to achieving your goals, especially your ultimate ones. More vitally, when we stray from the path, when we find ourselves in the deep rough of sin, when we discover that we have strayed into the trees of bitterness, when we are lost in the high grass, the gorse of resentment, life becomes infinitely more difficult, painful, frustrating and hopeless. Life is tough enough without getting into the junk; our sinfulness, our carelessness makes it more so.
One of the privileges of being a priest is celebrating Reconciliation with people. Hearing confessions if you will. Obviously, I cannot tell you what people have said, but I can speak in broad strokes and tell you in general what I hear. (I am not breaking the seal of confession.)
People share with me how they have wandered from the way. They tell me how what seemed like a good idea, what seemed like the way of life was actually a block, a place of wearisome farce and pain. At times, people get so far off the way that they wonder if they should just quit. It is then that I teach them the lessons of my golf game. Like I said, I know what it is like playing golf on places that are not the fairway. When you get in the thick stuff, don’t try to get tricky and think you can get out easily. Don’t shoot for the miracle shot, the one in a million way out. Often that just makes matters worse. Instead, swallow your pride, chip out, or add a stroke, take a drop and move on to the next hole. Life is similar. When you stray from the way, be humble, take your lumps, ask for forgiveness and move on.
The truth of golf and life is that it is rare that anyone stays on the fairway all the time. (60% is generally considered pretty good for golf.) That is why our God continually calls us to conversion, continually seeks us in the rough places and puts us back on the way. This morning I ask you to consider where you have strayed and recognize how vital it is to your life, to you achieving your ultimate goals, to return to the way, the path of life.
It is the best way to play golf.
It is the best way to follow Christ.
Read more homily reflections from Fr. Kevin (Click here to view the archive)
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