Episcopal Bishop Douglas Fisher has written an ode to Mariano Rivera, a brave thing to do considering he leads the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. But as the Red Sox fan writing this item will tell you, if you don’t admire Mariano Rivera, you don’t really like baseball.
This great pitcher gives us three pathways into the spiritual life. One concerns fear. Over and over again—hundreds of times—“Mo” has come into the game with everything on the line. The score is close. One bad pitch and his team loses. Why does Mo look so calm? Is it a psychological gimmick? Is it mind over matter? No, it’s faith. His pitching glove is inscribed with “Phil 4:13? referring to Paul’s letter to the Philippians “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”
This is not to say that God is a Yankee fan and not a Red Sox fan. Even I acknowledge that. Mariano’s faith allows him to be free of anxiety. In numerous interviews he says his life is in the context of God’s love. Even if 50,000 screaming fans in the ballpark and millions watching on TV and the Steinbrenner family glaring from the skybox believe the next pitch is life and death, he knows he and everyone watching is embraced by a greater reality. He knows he belongs to God and everything that happens belongs within God—who holds us in love no matter what.
Our BCP invites us to “a peace that surpasses understanding.” I ask God for that peace often. A peace that goes beyond my reason. A peace that is in my heart even if it is not in my fluttering stomach and my panicky mind. I might be wrong, but I see that type of peace in the great #42 every time he takes the mound. If he can have it, maybe I can too.