They learn to overcome challenges and temptations through training, perseverance, and sacrifice.
Make a difference. Everyone who loves sports knows and appreciates this famous saying. When champions, through hard work, succeed in making a difference, what exactly do they do? They stand out from their opponents to show them that the roads are now diverging. The difference means that, through perseverance, a gap is now being created. A gap between victory and defeat, between the champion and the runner-up. It is measured in seconds, centimeters, or thrust. All athletes will tell you that victories are won in training, in the dark and solitude, in the bitter fight against oneself.
The difference comes from this hard work, which consists in strengthening your willpower. To what end? Not to be the best, but simply to become better. To be happy too, because when we return to our moments of happiness, deep joy, and personal pride, we understand that they often come at the price of suffering, effort, and deprivation. Lent allows us to experience a greater tension in the face of temptation in the battles of our lives, on the battlegrounds of our confrontations, both external and internal.
We are often buried in the mire of our worries and our choices, our exhaustion, and our search for consolation. These situations are well described by St. Paul: “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want” (Romans 7:19). Yes, that is right, that is us, too. We know better, but we keep falling.
Well, let us rejoice. Not because of the fall, as it is avoidable and hurtful, but let us rejoice … in temptation. Let us not seek it, of course, but let us face it. Paradoxically, temptation is our chance, our opportunity to decide and make the right choice.
To go back to the sports metaphor, temptation is the decisive friction zone, the ultimate dribble, the last shot, the burst that makes it possible to “make a difference,” to choose, to take the risk, to reach victory, to shrug off defeat, and to renounce dishonor. What do we want to become? What destiny do we want to embrace? A life of gluttony or greatness? A path of life or death? Becoming pagans or saints? When temptation grips us, let us think of those athletes and saints who have chosen victory.
Lent is a high-level competition between good and evil, confrontation and surrender. Fortunately, we are not alone. Our families, friends, and priests can take turns being our teammates and coaches to help us turn to Christ. It is always He who makes the real difference in us.