In my prayer this Easter week I have been remembering the state finals for the Jesuit Tigers baseball team in 2000. I wish to give a shout out to Danny Plasencia and Ryan Walker Class of 2001, both Juniors that year of the baseball state title. I still have the image of Danny going over the fence along the right field foul line, catching a fly ball and of Ryan, down to his last strike, smacking a double down the left field line to drive in the winning run. That year the state finals were at Steinbrenner Stadium here in Tampa and there was a large crowd of Tiger supporters.
Before Ryan’s winning double, there was resignation that the Tigers were going to come up short. It is common in our human experience to honor someone or some team for working beyond expectation but yet still not succeeding. For us in our human mortality, we are very familiar with hard effort, and yet, not being able to accomplish the final victory. So close, they say, but no cigar. Heroic and yet mortal. Same with Jesus’ disciples. They had so hoped this would be the one; and yet they knew him dead on the cross and buried in the tomb behind a wheel of stone.
As common as the tale of coming up short is in our human history, there are examples in literature of the Great Reversal in which the power of good and heroic human effort does win, against overpowering odds. In the Lord of the Rings the power of evil cannot understand that it was being defeated by the refusal of power, not by military might. In weakness is the conquest accomplished.
Last week, we prayed for the grace to take up our cross and follow in Jesus’s footsteps to Golgotha. We asked for the grace to enter into sorrow and pain and abandonment – and to be faithful as the women disciples were, grieving at the foot of the Cross.
This week, we now pray for the grace to experience the Great Reversal – He is Risen! – and to manifest this jubilation to our world that is so dismayed at future ahead. Mary Magdalene is so overjoyed to find Jesus alive, she tries to hug him for joy. The fans of the Jesuit Tiger baseball team bounced and cheered all the way from the baseball stadium back to the school so great was our joy that the hard effort of the team had snatched victory from defeat. Jubilation and exultation!
This is the day the Lord has made – let us rejoice and be glad!
~ Fr. Paul Deutsch, SJ
Tampa, April 14, 2020