The day before and the day of the 1997 MLB trading deadline my family was driving out to Colorado for a vacation. Obviously, after spending two days in a car with my parents and five siblings, I was not terribly concerned about anything other than survival.
However, I will never forget the first thing I saw when I turned on the TV: The Cardinals had traded for Mark McGwire! In my 11-year-old mind, I couldn't help but think we were going to win the World Series and McGwire was going to hit 100 home runs the next year for the Cardinals. After the heartbreak of blowing a 3-1 series lead over the Braves the previous year in the NLCS, a trade of this magnitude brought new hope. The Cardinals were back, baby!
Though the Cardinals never won a World Series with Mark McGwire playing first, the trading deadline still holds a special place in every fans heart. A stumbling team can become a contender, a floundering team can sell off top talent for future stars, and fans can spend countless hours on internet message boards and talk radio proposing trades, contracts, and scenarios that are so far fetched they make campaign promises seem realistic.
At the end of the day, though, even the best trade only offers hope; a new player represents only future promise not past success.
In many ways, our faith life is like a trading deadline. Through our baptism, confirmation, and participation in the Eucharist , we choose to be on God's team. We have marked ourselves out for Christ. We are the power-hitting first baseman, the scrappy utility player, the closer, the whatever-God-has-called-us-to-be player on the Saints of Heaven roster.
In a special way, too, we can trade in our sins and shortcomings at the Sacrament of Penance and receive the perfect player in return: God's grace.
We live in hope. Our charitable works, our prayer, our penance, everything we do to build up the Kingdom of God is a means to our end -- future glory in the reign of God.
Unlike baseball, our future success is not based on statistics or chance nor are we simply blind lemmings going wherever the Master bids us. We choose Jesus Christ and we choose to be instruments of God's never-failing grace.
There will be a lot of trades today in baseball so why not head to church this Saturday afternoon and trade in your sins for the glory of God's mercy, forgiveness, and grace.
God wants us on His team. God created us to be saints. What team do you play for?