Reading I: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Reading II: Acts 10:34-38
GOSPEL: Mark 1:7-11

The Tortoise and the Hare

It’s a very old fable, and one that most everyone knows. The tortoise and the hare have a race to see who is fastest. Overconfidence by the hare and perseverance by the tortoise finally decide the outcome of the race. But what would have happened if the tortoise had believed the odds? What would’ve happened if the tortoise had simply given up?

Overwhelming Odds

Watch the news for any length of time and a feeling of doom and gloom tends to set in. Everywhere you look there is conflict. People are killing people every hour of every day, and they all feel justified in what they are doing. As a people of peace, how can Christians ever hope to overcome such hatred and violence?

As crazy as it may sound, in order to make a difference in the world, we have to ignore the odds – and our own shortcomings. If we focus too much on these things, we will most certainly guarantee that our results are poor. For when we trust the odds, we always forget to trust the Holy Spirit. And we forget that God cares little for the odds.

In fact, God has a habit of beating the odds!

Baptized in the Holy Spirit

The best way for us to beat the odds is to follow the teachings of Jesus. But it can be frustrating when we try to live our lives according to Jesus’ example, for his is a life that cannot be matched. No matter how hard we try, how great we love, how much we forgive – we will never quite match Christ. So we need a little perspective to help us out.

It’s easy to read the Bible and think, “Those guys in the Old Testament had it made when it came to doing God’s will. He spoke to them all the time! If I had a burning bush telling me what to do, life would be a whole lot simpler!”

Again, we need to avoid focusing on our shortcomings. And in this particular case, we need to realize that we actually do have something better than the people in the Old Testament. We have been given a gift that the great prophets of the Old Testament were not: We have been baptized, not just in water, but also in the Holy Spirit.

Through our baptism, we are called to be Christ in the world. And the Holy Spirit, who will guide us throughout our journey, anoints us through our baptism. That tops a burning bush any day in my book!

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

In the old fable, the tortoise keeps plugging away. Against all odds, he continues to run the race. He doesn’t concern himself with how slow he is, or how fast the hare happens to be. He just continues to put one foot in front of the other, marching steadfast towards the finish line.

The tortoise is a fine example for Christians everywhere. What could possibly be more important than bringing Christ’s message of redemption and ultimate salvation? If the tortoise continues his toil for no other reason than completing a foot race, can we do any less when it comes to the eternal souls of our fellow humans?

Granted – we won’t be able to change the world overnight. We may never even know the full effect of the things we do. But we should keep in mind the description of a servant that pleases the Lord, which Isaiah provides for us:

“…not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;”

In other words, be like the tortoise. Keep plugging away toward the finish line.
Slow and steady wins the race.

Life Applications:

How do you feel about the state of the world today?
How do you think the great prophets felt during their days?
What can you do to keep a positive attitude and keep plugging away at being Christ in the world?

Original article by Brandon Jubar, 2003-2021.
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