The Word of God

Foul Balls And A Father’s Love

baseball batter swing at game

In a most dramatic example of how baseball imitates life, there was an emotional and heart-stopping scene at Minute Maid Park during the Cubs-Astros game last Thursday (5/29) during the last inning. Albert Almora Jr. of the Cubs hit a hard line-drive foul into the stands that hit a young child. He was extremely and visibly affected and shaken by the accident and had to be consoled by security personnel right on the field. According to the latest reports available, the young child was awake, responsive and taken to a local hospital for precautionary reasons and is expected to be fine with an amazingly unique baseball memory afforded to few.

“Right now I’m just praying and I’m speechless,” he told the Associated Press. “I’m at loss of words. Being a father, two boys… but God willing I’ll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life. But just prayers right now and that’s all I really can control. It really puts life in perspective.” To watch this great athlete crumble before audiences everywhere spoke volumes of his deep paternal compassion and care. He inadvertently hurt a child and as a father of two, he felt the pain perhaps even more severely.

There is something quite telling in this remarkable slice of life that was witnessed by tens of thousands of people, mostly baseball fans. As we move into yet another month of this, what-seemed-so recently as the “brand new year,” it really has become a call to sit back for a second, take stock in life and consider what is really important and why.

You will no doubt hear that June is the month of Dads and Grads and perhaps that is partly our cue to ask a very important question. What does this amazing occurrence at the stadium in Houston reveal to us about what a father does, acts or feels? Here are a few ideas:

He heals.

“Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.” (Matthew 15:22-28)

A father attempts to stay deeply connected to compassion, always acting what is within his power to do, approaching life with all his heart.

He loves.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the laws and the prophets.”  (Matthew 22:35-40)

A father shows mercy no matter what the circumstances and extends forgiveness without limits, loving the other as his own expression of his love for God.

He prays.

“But when you pray, go into your inner room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5-6)

A father prays alone, persistently, with others and simply especially when life deals a hard knock of sorts.

He focuses on his treasure in heaven.

“And he said to them, ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’” (Luke 12:15)

A father detaches himself from possessions, believes that God has blessed him abundantly and seeks to act justly in all things with all people, especially his own family.

He seeks God’s will.

“So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.’” (John 8:27-29)

A father relies on the example of Jesus, maintains a sense of urgency by seeking to always be in the state of grace, focus daily on God’s will, and sees all his responsibilities as acts of love by looking upon his own sacrifice as gain for others.

He sees children as precious.

“The children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray,. The disciples rebuked the people; but Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ And he laid his hands upon them.”  (Matthew 19:13-15)

A father protects children while welcoming them into a safe and loving world while at the same time seeking to have the innocent heart of a child.

He lives with humility.

“And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them,’ If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’” (Mark 9:33-35)

A father lives in God’s mercy and not on his own merit, presumes the lowest place of consideration and sacrifice his ego for the greater good, especially for his family and neighbors.

That my friends, in a very friendly nutshell, is our reflection for and about fathers today. And to think that it surfaced out of a baseball foul ball in a tight game watched by hundreds of thousands of people, especially the remarkable and memorable foul ball. Baseball does in fact imitate life in several ways and we will close with these interesting comparisons:

In the game of baseball, there is no time limit or “sudden death” overtime. Everyone knows that there is an end to the game, but never exactly when. Just like life. In this great game, players get several chances to win and succeed. During nine innings you should get four at bats, and you get four balls and three strikes and whole bunch of foul balls. As in life, we often have many more failures than successes. But in baseball, like life, it’s those failures that make us better and stronger to be a better competitor the next day. In the game of life and baseball, you and I are sometimes asked to make sacrifices for the good of the team.

Fatherhood is amazing, isn’t? Whether it’s foul ball or a home run, just staying in the game is more than half the victory.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

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