Today’s first reading from the First Book of Peter identifies the benefits of believing in Jesus without actually seeing him. Peter, the most zealous of Jesus’s apostles, first identifies the power of a faith rewarded: “although now for a little while / you may have to suffer through various trials, / so that the genuineness of your faith… / may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor / at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Believing in something unseen and unproven makes the eventual sight and proof all the more powerful. Additionally, however, Peter recognizes the power in the act of faith: “Although you have not seen him… / you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, / as you attain the goal of faith, the salvation of your souls.” Even if one’s faith does not bear fruit, the ability to find and maintain faith is a goal in itself.
I am a member of the coaching staff for the cross country and track and field teams at St. John’s Prep, and, when healthy, am a distance runner myself. Distance running, like any sport, requires dedication and hard work to achieve success in the ultimate goal: competition. Unlike most sports, however, the act of distance running is its own reward. Much like faith, as Peter describes it, training to be a distance runner often becomes a reward on its own. The decision to begin a long run, the action of placing one foot in front of the other, the pursuit to push one’s body beyond what he or she might think possible, and the repetition of this process, day by day… to me, these are the reasons to run.
Many people see distance running as a waste of time. But just like Sisyphus, who pushes the boulder to the top of the mountain, only to start all over again when it rolls to the base of the mountain, the distance runner expresses his or her passion for self-improvement, in the belief that one more step gives his or her life meaning. And don’t our transitory, mortal lives deserve that passion?
Just like those disciples who committed themselves to Jesus’s teachings, if distance runners commit themselves to training, they will often see results, but not always. More importantly, however, they will have found faith and trust in themselves, and from this font of personal dedication, the glorious joy arises.
– Rob O'Brien '04, English Department