Resilience & Redemption

In my life I haven’t played a lot of golf. The few times I did play I was reminded that golf is the most frustrating game invented by man. You hit the ball hoping that it would go in one direction and it always ends up in the other direction. The last time I played the game – that was several years ago – I lost four balls in the first nine holes. I wish I would shoot my age rather than my weight. That is why I gave up playing golf. I don’t want to be the reason why my golf buddy engages in violent swearing.

Because of the challenging nature of golf, I have always admired great golfers. Especially when he was on the top of the game, I admired Tiger Woods for his extraordinary prowess and phenomenal success. Even when he destroyed his family and personal life by the bad things he had done, I felt sorry for him. While so many people wrote him off and condemned him, I hoped he would someday experience redemption and return to the game.

Last Sunday Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship and almost clinched the FedEx Cup after a dry spell of five years. He is back. As he got emotional during his interview, he admitted how he was riddled with self-doubt. At times he was not sure whether he would ever play the game, much less win a major. He kept grinding. There were times he could not sit, stand or walk without experiencing tremendous pain. After two back surgeries and endless rehab, he returned to his earlier form. He has also shown us what it means to experience redemption. Although divorced from his wife, he has become a more dedicated father and his fellow players like him. Even TV interviewers point out how much nicer he is. He has shown us the meaning of resilience.

As Christians and as humans, we need lots and lots of resilience. My favorite book of all time, A Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck, begins with this opening sentence: “Life is difficult.” Those of us who have lived a little know that life is difficult. It is full of challenges, setbacks, problems, heartaches and failures. We need to be able to overcome the things that life throws at us. We will fall many times. The more important thing is to get up, to pick ourselves up and move forward. It is easy to live with success. It takes a special person to overcome failure. In the face of failure great men and women remember the words of Henry Ford who said, “When everything seems to be going against you remember that an airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

Our Christian faith tells us that resilience is a virtue because Christ crucified-and-risen is the ultimate exemplar of resilience. On that Good Friday many felt that it was the end of the story. No, it was just the beginning. Jesus rose and re-wrote the story. He overcame sin and death, and in the process brought us endless hope. We can overcome anything because He has crushed the ultimate challenge, death itself.

Tiger has given us an example of redemption also. When his bad actions and immature decisions destroyed his personal and family life, many people judged him harshly and condemned him. Even when he was down, I felt sorry for him and wished that he would be able to rebuild his life. I am so glad that he has experienced redemption. He has faced his demons and now he is focusing his attention on his children and philanthropy. Over the last three decades I have wondered why our society delights in making someone an icon and then smashing them down. Why do we forget that there is always the possibility of redemption for everyone? Even the greatest sinner is loved by God. God sees far more in the person than the sins he/she has committed. Jesus has shed His blood for every soul and will not dismiss any sinner without giving him/her the hope of redemption.

That is the beauty of our faith. God is love and His love knows no bounds. As long as the sinner is willing to repent, God is ready to forgive. If we take one step towards Him, He will take a million steps towards us. The parables in chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel tell us that our God is the Prodigal Father Who lavishes us with His forgiveness. If we retrace our steps towards the family home just like the prodigal son, we will be welcomed with open arms.

Resilience and redemption are two wonderful gifts that all of us need in our ordinary and spiritual lives. It is ironic that we can draw this lesson from an amazing golfer who threw away everything at his prime due to his foolish actions and later found redemption and exhibited resilience. In my priestly ministry I meet so many broken lives that need to believe in redemption and find resilience. My heart goes out to every one of them.

Let us pray for all the lost souls. Let us pray for our own family members who are broken or lost. Let us never doubt the power of God’s forgiveness. Let us never give up no matter how relentless the headwinds are. Christ, Our Lord, is risen. With Him by our side, we can face anything. We can overcome everything.

God bless you!

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

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Phone: (847) 825-7605

Mass Schedule

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8:30 am - Upper Church


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9:30 am - Gym

10:30 am - Upper Church

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