I have two sisters. Both are older than me. When I was about 10 and my middle sister was 14, I had a keen interest in playing softball. She was quite a teen athlete, and so I did what little sisters do best and bugged her to practice with me. We lived in a small town with a small yard and so we were forced to play in the alley beside our apartment or walk several blocks to the ball field. We chose the alley.
She pitched. I swung and missed. She pitched. I swung and missed. She pitched. I swung and missed. And so it went. After about 15 tries she stopped and said, “If you don’t hit this one, I am going inside.” Desperate for her approval and attention, I swung as if my life depended on it. I connected! The softball sailed right into our neighbor’s garage window. His shiny Cadillac was in the garage. I stood there with my mouth hanging open. I turned to my sister for direction. She was gone. Terror shook my young frame. Our neighbor was not known for his kindness. I would have to tell him.
Slowly I walked down the alley to the corner. If only we had walked down to the baseball field. If only we had used a Wiffle ball. If only I had missed again. f only I were better. If only my neighbor were nicer. If only.
In today’s first reading Moses said to the people, If only you would heed the voice of the Lord and heed His commandments. If only. How often do we say the same? If only I would have listened. If only things would have been different. If only.
But Christ is the image of the invisible God. Through Him all things hold together. We don’t need to be better, because Christ is better. We can swing and miss. We can swing and break a window all over a Cadillac. We can stand alone with the bat in our hand. But Christ holds us all together. With Him there is no “if only”.
Our mission, as we step up to the batter’s box, is to love Him. Love Him as if you are swinging for the fence. Love Him as if the game depends on it. Love Him as if your life depends on it. . .because it does. You don’t need anyone’s approval or guidance. You don’t need regret. You just need the voice of the Lord and a love for Him big enough to love your neighbor too.