Catholics aren’t perfect. Yet we are called to be. (Matthew 5:48) Catholics never will be perfect so what’s the point in trying? That is the point; the trying.
Many people confuse devout Catholics as being “holier-than-thou”. Misguiding their external faith as “thinking they are perfect” or “being better than everyone else”. On the first point, no accusation could be more contrary. Rather than perfection, good Catholics fully understand their limitless imperfections. They are grave sinners who constantly focus their attention on self-improvement. On the second point, no accusation could be more correct! Catholics are being better than anyone else who thinks becoming perfect isn’t necessary.
That is the distinction between maintaining earth as status quo versus developing it into “as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Which is why the “faith alone” dogma is so confusing. In what way does justification without works better this world? How does this world even matter if nothing we do sanctifies us and others? Did Christ really leave us a world only requiring a mission statement but no mission? I think not.
The Catholic way is the perfect way. We see the Catholic way of doing things in all areas of life. The best example of the Catholic way is the New York Yankees. The Yankees are by no means perfect but they are always striving to be. As mentioned above, that is the essence of being Catholic, the strive. For the Yankees, the World Series isn’t enough unless it perpetuates into a 3-year dynasty. For Catholics, living a Catholic life isn’t good enough unless it passes to their children and grandchildren. Yankee followers are Yankee fans first, baseball fans second. Catholics are Christians first, humans second.
Similarly, the Yankees seem to be hated in the league by everyone who isn’t a Yankee fan just as many non-Catholics have an unfortunate vitriol reaction to anything Catholic.
What would Major League Baseball have become without the Yankees? What would the world have become without Catholicism?
An uncompromising ethic to be the best they can be is what has earned the New York Yankees nearly three times the amount of championships than the second winningest team in MLB history, the Saint Louis Cardinals.
I don’t know if God cares if we win baseball championships or become sports legends but I know the Holy Bible unequivocally tells us to swim upstream, climb the mountain and aim towards a way of perfection.
Hanging above the hallway entrance to the Yankee clubhouse is a quote by Joe DiMaggio that says, “I want to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee”. As the players enter the game, they touch the sign to remind them of the extraordinary gift they have been given to play on the most perfect baseball team in the most perfect league.
As we rise out of bed every morning to play the game of life, let us touch our crucifix and state “I want to thank the good Lord for making me a Catholic!”
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