Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: 1st Book of Kings 19:16, 19-21
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11
Second Reading: St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 5:1, 13-18
Gospel: According to St. Luke 9:51-62
Three years have passed, and Cleveland is on to a new streak that – God willing – will not last fifty-two years. In some ways it seems like a long time ago, but in others it seems like only yesterday that we were “All In” and a huge banner of King James hung majestically across from The Q. We Clevelanders were so “all in” that approximately 1.3 million people showed up for the victory parade. To give some context to that number: it is one million more than the population of Cleveland proper, and about one out of every eight people in Ohio attended the parade! In fact, on that day the parade (which, following Cleveland sports tradition, should now be known as “The Parade”) was the largest city in Ohio – over half a million people larger than Columbus.
Everyone at the parade, myself and my wife included, knew that it would be a long day with, from a purely practical standpoint, more negatives than positives. People waited up to two hours for public transportation; people parked in neighborhoods miles away from the parade and walked. The sea of bodies made it almost impossible to move at times; the streets of the parade route were so jammed that the parade took several hours longer than expected. To those of us near City Hall, the terminus of the parade route, it seemed like the parade was some mythical creature – rumored to exist but never appearing. In front of us one little boy was ready to throw in the towel, exclaiming to his mom and anyone else within ear shot, “This is the worst day of my life!” Not even Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and the Larry O’Brien Trophy could dry his tears. For him, seven hours of being “all in” was about as much as he could handle.
I am reminded of that little boy when I look at the readings for this weekend. We are called by Jesus to be “all in,” and that means that we must be willing to leave everything behind for the sake of the Kingdom. That sounds great in the early morning when the “all in” journey begins, but the idea loses its luster when we’re cramped, tired, hungry, hot, thirsty, in need of “comfort,” and not at all looking to the long journey home. Once the Cross becomes a reality in our lives we can be forgiven for crying out: “This is the worst day of my life!”
Yet that time of trouble, be it long or short, passes, and we are afforded the opportunity to look back and recognize that the loving hand of God guided us through our struggles. Jesus is always “all in” for us, and never leaves us, no matter how much we might feel abandoned by Him in the moment of greatest difficulty. If we are at the foot of the Cross, all we need to do is look up and we will see Him nailed to it, arms outstretched. In looking to Christ on the Cross we see what “all in” really means, and it gives our suffering a purpose that it could never have without the knowledge that there is an eternal victory and Jesus has won it for us.
In another fifty-two years, when that little boy is approaching sixty and he is talking with his grandchildren about “The Block,” “The Shot,” and “The Parade” he will not remember the tears, and he might not remember seeing Lebron or Kyrie or the Trophy, but he will remember that he was there. He will no longer believe that it was the worst day of his life, and he will also know that being “all in” is the only way to live.