We usually associate standing on the sidelines with sitting out as the highlight reel hardly pans to those standing beyond the boundaries of play. Yet, an argument could be made for the importance of those on the side. Often 11 guys take the field but there are 99 others who push those 11 to the top. From the marvelous to the mundane, those on the field often know they do not stand alone.
As Christ bowed His head on the cross, His eyes gazed upon those who stood beside Him. Mary and John were actively present along the Way of the Cross to the moment when He “commended up HIs Spirit.” Their consoling presence was not intended to change the outcome of His fateful finish. Rather, they stood as loyal friends who trusted that what appeared to be a great defeat would indeed be the final Victory. They stood in Hope knowing that the cross was not, and does not, have the final word. As a result, what they offered paled in comparison to what they received – His vulnerability, as He shared His wounds, and the gift of one another as He commended them to behold one another.
Though we can not fight one another’s battle, we can actively stand on the sidelines, like Mary and John, so that those who fight know they don’t do so alone. Who’s on your sideline? Who makes you better and supports you in all seasons? How are you called to stand with, and for, others – especially when you can’t change circumstances or outcomes? When we stand on the sidelines, may we stand in Hope believing that the cross always leads to new life.
I remember who I was and I learned to dance with the fear that I’d been running from
When the moon is the only light we’ll see, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand by me
No place I would rather be than here in your Love
“You’re a natural,” he said with a smile. Though he never explained what location each number corresponded with, I intuitively threw each punch squarely onto his moving mitts. We worked around the ring as I threw a flurry of punches. Breathless and grateful, the timer buzzed.
It’s hard not to love boxing, an artistic and athletic display of grace and strength. However, I’m biased. I’m an Irish Catholic New Yorker and on top of that I’m a red-head. I earned the title of Fighting Irish practically at birth. When backed into a corner, proverbial or literal, my synapses fire so quickly that I’m swinging before I’ve even had time to formulate my animated verbal response. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a Spirit of power.” 2 Tim. 1:7
Then there’s that part where the Gospel mentions to turn the other cheek – an unnatural response in my book to say the least. However, the verse from the second letter of Timothy does not end with the reminder of our strength found in Christ. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self control.” Power is not ultimately found in fighting for its own sake. Rather, as we fight with strength, may we be directed by the good, guided by love, and harnessed by self-control.
This beckons the question – what’s worth fighting for? How can we spend our time and energy using our talents for that which is good? In order to fight well, we need to first recognize what arena we are called into and which one we need to step out from? Wherever you are called, may you dare boldly to fight the good fight, remembering “it’s not the critic who counts.”
So I can face my giants with confidence
This is what I’m talking about
There’s a magic in the sound of her name
I wish this was an analogy of Ian handing the ball to Dex, who then found a 92 yard hole that ended in the end zone. However, if you watched the ND-Clemson Semi-Final, you know most Irish attempts were blocked by the opponent’s stalwart D-line. Since the purpose of a hand-off is to move the chains towards the goal, it’s worth asking what are you holding onto, what can you hand off, and who are you going to pass? Perhaps you are clinging to fear, regret, bitterness, or hopelessness. Maybe, you are clutching anxiety, worry, or control.
On campus, there is a statue where Joseph is kneeling at Mary’s feet and the Christ child is between them. It is unclear whether Mary is handing Christ over or receiving Him. Either way, “The Holy Hand-off,” as it is affectionately dubbed, is a reminder to hand-off our cares, faults, failures, joys, and successes and to entrust our desires to the Sacred Heart of Jesus so that like Mary and Joseph we an present the Christ child to one another.