The wait is over!
For the first time in seven years the Chicago Cubs are in the playoffs and one step closer to winning the World Series; a feat that has escaped them for over a century. Cubs fans finally have something to cheer about. With manager Joe Maddon at the helm and the sensational pitching of Jake Arrieta, the Cubs look like they can finally make a run in the postseason. Over the last century Cubs fans have come and gone, but with each passing generation the hope of winning the World Series has remained central in their hearts just like the hope of Christians who await the promises of Christ.
The life of a Chicago Cub fan is unique because of the sustained hope they possess in the midst of endless suffering. You’ll probably remember the Bartman debacle of ’03, where Bartman took a foul ball out of Moises Alou’s glove in game six of the NLCS that would have surely been an out. What followed was a series of errors and another playoff loss for the Cubs. This is perhaps the capstone of all of the Cubs failed attempts at winning the Series, but a common outcome nonetheless. Although losing has become a part of Cub culture, Cub fans have never given up hope. At the conclusion of each year that ends without a World Series victory, you can hear fans across the country saying, “Wait ‘til next year”; still holding on to the hope that their team will one day prevail.
Of course the hope of Chicago Cubs fans is not the same as the hope of Christians, but we can learn something about hope by way of analogy.
Cubs fans endure defeat after defeat, because it is reasonable for them to believe that one day they will see their team win the World Series. Barring a nuclear holocaust or zombie apocalypse, it is reasonable to assume that one day the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series, even in the midst of recent signs to the contrary. This hope that is held by the Cub faithful is correctly understood as a wish, because the end that is sought is perishable and not guaranteed.
In comparison, Christian hope is ordered towards eternal happiness and is promised to those who follow Jesus. Christ promises that we will inherit the Kingdom of God and sit at His right hand if we love and serve Him. The virtue of hope guides us toward our ultimate goal of union with God. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, it is the “virtue by which we desire the Kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness.” Hope, which is given to us by God, enables us to persevere during difficult and tumultuous times in our life.
The fundamental difference between Christian hope and the hope of Cubs fans is that one is promised, another is not. Christians will inherit eternal life if they follow Christ, but the Cubs have no guarantee of winning the Series; only a reasonable belief that they will one day obtain baseball’s highest achievement. Therefore, Cubs fans persevere in hope of seeing their wish come true. Whereas Christian hope is ordered toward the eternal promise of life with God in heaven.
That being said, there is a lot that Christians can learn from Cubs fans. As was stated earlier, Cubs fans have continued to support their team even after a century long World Series drought. The Cubs have failed more times than they’ve succeeded and yet fans continue to flock to Wrigley Field every year.
But what about Christians? Do we persevere under trial and in the face of suffering? Or do we flee and lose hope? If Cubs fans can endure the hardships of baseball and continue to be zealous and passionate about their team, shouldn’t Christians be willing to endure suffering for the sake of Christ and for eternal happiness with Him? It is after all, guaranteed! Therefore, we should ask God for the grace to strive in the midst of suffering and to hold on to the hope of the future promises that await us in heaven. As St. Paul says, “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win” (1 Cor 9:24). We must run the race of life with the goal of eternity always in our sights. Our prize is eternal and guaranteed, so let us follow the example of Cubs fans and continue to persevere.
Has baseball helped you understand virtue by way of analogy? Let us know in the comments.