With football finals season and the Spring Carnival upon us, the tales of teams coming up as the Underdog, who ‘Come up for the Cup’, are sure to enter our conversations. The ‘UNDERDOG’ genre is always a popular theme. We’ve seen it in: Michelle Payne winning the Melbourne Cup in 2015; in Billy Elliott the Musical; Eddie the Eagle; the amazing rise and success of Ed Sheeran; The Shawshank Redemption; Rocky; anything the South Sydney rugby league team is associated with (!!); and of course one of my favourite films, ‘DODGEBALL: A True Underdog Story’, to list but a few!!
Most of us are able to associate, or at least feel the warmth, of the story of the individual who rises against the odds to do something beyond themselves. To see that people with seemingly limited potential are able to achieve the unthinkable.
The story of each one of us, in our magnificently flawed yet loveable humanity, is that in the midst of our messiness, we are loved, we are precious. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the apostles that even if they have the smallest aspect of faith (the size of a tiny mustard seed), then they are still capable of doing the impossible (of moving trees). But alas, our faith is tested and we fall by the way side from time to time when we fail to stand up for the oppressed and the persecuted. We are called not to be oppressors, but liberators for each other. That power to change lives is within us, through our faith.
We are called to see ourselves in our beautiful frailty. See myself in my anxiety and in my shortcomings, and see that in those aspects of my magnificently flawed humanity – I am still called to be Christ like. In that frail humanity, I still am Christ like.
I believe each of us know individuals in our lives who, with their incredibly strong faith, have moved mountains. People who have accomplished the unthinkable. People who have overcome obstacles that were in their way. These individuals inspire us and give us the courage to continue going.
Pope Francis in his Angelus message explained today’s Gospel passage by saying:
“The mustard seed is very small, but Jesus says that it is enough to have a faith like this, small but true, sincere to do things that are humanely impossible, unthinkable. And it is true! We all know people who are simple, humble, but with incredible strong faith, who truly move mountains!”
Let’s take a moment to think of those people in our lives who have inspired us with their courage, bravery and resilience. The cancer patient; the refugee seeking a new life for their family; the individual overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction; the individual battling daily through depression. The ‘Underdog Story’ is the story of Jesus Christ, and you and I have a role to play in that Jesus story.