The Rival Within

May 10, 2008

“..If I want him to remain until I come, does that concern you? Follow me…” (John 21:20-25)

The rivalry of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson may be the best ever in the history of the National Basketball Association. I remember in the 80’s, how I argued endlessly with my dad as to who was the better basketball player (he was a Bird die-hard and I was a  Magic fanatic). Whenever the  Lakers met the Celtics in the Finals, it was always about those two incredibly great players.

And they knew it. In fact, they drove each other to excellence.

Bird once said that the only player he was afraid of in the clutch was Magic Johnson. Magic, on the other hand, mentioned once that he practiced very hard because he knew that somewhere Larry Bird was practicing harder.

But what is true in sports competition, isn’t true with discipleship. In the latter, your only rival is yourself. Not Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Or St. Francis of Assisis. Not even Bro. Tony who goes to the same church as you. In discipleship, you excel not to beat another, but to beat the flesh within you.

The flesh is that part of you that seeks to rebel against God’s Lordship over your life. That part that is self-centered and ego-centric. That part that resists sacrifice and promotes indulgence.  That part that is constantly stubborn and refuses to obey. That, my friend, is your stiffest competitor towards real and genuine greatness.

That’s why when the flesh in Peter began comparing himself with John in the Gospel today, Jesus retorted by saying:

“..If I want him to remain until I come, does that concern you? Follow me…” (John 21:20-25)

Perhaps Jesus wanted Peter to realize that when it comes to discipleship, it is a totally different ballgame. You compete against yourself. You don’t get to become a saint at the expense of another. You don’t get to heaven by stepping on another. The call is personal. You alone make or break your chances at greatness in the Kingdom of God.

How often do we hear ourselves say:

“Why should I visit the sick and the prisoners, our Parish Priest doesn’t even do that.”

“It’s ok if I slander once in a while. Our community leader is worse. You should’ve heard him the other day…”

“I got drunk again last night. I was with my fellow members of the church choir who were more drunk than I was, so I guess it was fine.”

Really? Do we honestly think our salvation is dependent on others doing worse than us? Do we really believe we become a better disciple if others perform worse?

Friend, our goal is to follow God as best as we can. Regardless if others will. Even if others won’t.

Today, make a resolution to stop comparing, and start performing. And before you know it, you will find yourself on your way to sainthood.

Take it from no less than St. Peter himself.

Enjoy the weekend!

I remain, your friend in Christ,

Bobby Q.

P.S. I continue to invite you to Pentecost Power: Unleashing Anew the Spirit’s Power in Your Prayer Group, on May 21, 8AM-12AM at the Ligaya ng Panginoon Formation Center in Taguig. I will be leading this event together with prolific songwriter and worship leader Marlo Valencia. This is open to all Catholic Charismatics who would want to re-awaken the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their lives. For inquiries and reservations, you may call or text 09198267780 or email at lampstand_inspirations@yahoo.com. We don’t accept walk-ins.

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