Dear Sacred Heart Family,
I am looking to join a gym. Have you ever avoided working out? Five years ago, when I was a high school chaplain, one of the coaches encouraged me to start working out. He served as a trainer and mentor, and for a year, I was in the gym every week. I lost about 40 lbs. and felt better, and life was good. I adjusted what I ate, had a workout plan, and I was happy with the results. Then I got busy. Summer plans took us on a mission trip, I had some vacation out of town, and I told myself, I’ll get back to it. Then life piled up, and it was a vicious cycle, a “catch 22.” Excuses led to delays, led to more stress, led to promises I didn’t keep. I need to reboot.
Who cares, Father, with all due respect? My health woes ultimately don’t matter to other people. However, they gave me a new perspective on evangelizing.
Many people might see the Church as a gym. Their impression might be that the equipment is old-fashioned, out of date, and very complicated. Many people got a membership card with their family at birth (Baptism). A couple times a year, they go and work out when grandparents are in town. Their experience of the gym from their youth was a complex system of rules, calorie counting, and being yelled at. Perhaps they see God, the clergy, the staff, etc., as drill sergeants with little people skills.
Perhaps at one time, we, our families, our friends worked out regularly. We hit the gym, and we were in shape. Then life happened, we drifted away, we had a crisis, we reached out for help to no avail. Perhaps it was worse. We had a terrible experience, a relationship went south, we dealt with abuse or tremendous pain. The membership card lies in a dusty drawer and we have no motivation to go. It’s just too complicated.
The Lord is not a Drill Sergeant. He wants to meet us and go for a walk. The gym is full of opportunities and ways to get healthy. There are as many work out plans, sports, and healthy options as there are people. The Lord desires that we be fully alive, healthy, and aware of the benefits package. The bill was paid for long ago. Maybe I’ll see you at a local gym, and hope to see you here with some new family and friends at Mass.
Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart,
Fr. Bjorn Lundberg