Archive for the ‘14th Sunday’ Category

The Class of the NCAA 7-9-2017

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

A few springs ago, Western Oregon State played Central Washington University in women’s softball for the conference championship. An NCAA playoff spot was on the line. With two on, Western Oregon’s Sara Tucholsky connected to hit a home run clearing the center field fence. It was Sara’s first home run ever. A part-time starter in the outfield, Sara, a senior, had only 3 hits in 34 at-bats all season.
But as she circled the bases, Sara fell and hurt her knee. The five-foot-two-inch senior lay crumpled in the dirt a few feet from first base—and a long way from home plate.
Her teammates ran to help her—but their coaches stopped them: According to the rules, if any teammate ran on to the field, Sara would be called out. The umpires said that if Sara could make it back to first base, a pinch runner could be substituted—but Sara’s home run would be scored a single. Any assistance from coaches or trainers while Sara was an active runner would result in an out.
While Western Oregon was deciding its next move, the first baseman for Central Washington asked the umpire chief if she and her teammates could help her. The umpire knew of no rule against the opposing team helping the player—so two Central Washing players put their arms under Sara’s legs and Sara put her arms around their shoulders and the three headed around the base paths, stopping to let Sara touch each base.
Central Washington’s compassion cost them. They lost the game—and the playoff berth—4.2.
But that didn’t seem to faze Central Washington. “In the end, it’s not about winning and losing so much”, Washington’s first baseman Mallory Holtman said. “It was about this girl. She’s a senior; it’s her last year. She hit it over the fence and was in pain, and she deserved a home run. It was the right thing to do”.
This ultimate act of sportsmanship mirrors the generosity of spirit and humility of hear that Jesus asks of us in today’s Gospel. When Jesus calls his disciples to embrace the simple faith of “little ones”, he is not saying that our approach to faith should be “watered down” to the level of children. He is calling us, instead, to embrace a faith that is centered in the love and compassion of God: love that is not compromised by self-interest and rationalization, compassion that is not measured but given completely and unreservedly. Christ is asking us to embrace a faith that is simple, pure and honest—not complicated and compromised by “adult stuff” like winning and losing. May the “wise and learned” among us embrace the spirit of generosity and selflessness exhibited by the Central Washing University women’s softball team—the class of the NCAA.