May 29, 2015

Reflection / Sean Gallagher

Persevere through life’s trials with God’s help to be victorious in the new Jerusalem

Sean GallagherPerseverance is an essential virtue to accomplish a significant task in life. But this virtue isn’t tested that much when the task, which might have seemed difficult at first, ends up being fairly easy.

That’s what you could say happened when Indy Car driver Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000. While the Indy 500 has often been a hard-fought battle, Montoya made the race in 2000 look like a walk in the park.

He led 167 of the race’s 200 laps, and won by more than seven seconds. At the time, Montoya, a native of Colombia, was a 24-year-old rookie. He easily won the Indy 500 in his first try, while other great race car drivers failed to drink the victor’s milk despite striving so hard for it throughout their careers.

Montoya promptly left Indy Car racing after his first year for greener pastures in Formula One in Europe, and later in NASCAR. He only returned to Indy Car last year.

He started in the middle of the field for the 2015 Indianapolis 500 run on May 24. Early in the race, his car was damaged when struck by another driver. His car’s entire rear wing needed to be replaced and he fell back to 30th place.

But by halfway through the race, Montoya had worked his way up through the field and was running with the leaders.

The last 15 laps of this year’s Indy 500 were some of the most competitive ever seen. Montoya, Will Power and Scott Dixon frequently passed each other for the lead.

Montoya passed Power for the lead on lap 197 and was barely able to hold him off for the victory, winning by one-tenth of a second after only leading nine laps all day.

This year’s victory was very different than Montoya’s win in 2000. It tested his perseverance to a far greater degree. Maybe that’s why this win seemed more sweet to him than his first. “When you go through everything, you start to understand what it means to win here,” said Montoya after the race, as reported by the Indianapolis Star.

Perhaps the perseverance that Montoya needed to endure many challenging years in NASCAR and the battles of this year’s Indy 500 also helped him put the important things of life into proper perspective. After Montoya drank the winner’s milk in Victory Circle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Sunday, he didn’t pour it over his head or splash it on his pit crew, as winners have done in the past. Instead, he passed the bottle on to his young children celebrating next to his car.

When we persevere through this life, we’ll be able to echo Montoya’s words—but with so much more experience behind them. Our grace-inspired perseverance will have helped us to keep the faith throughout all of life’s trials in order to run the race set before us so as to win it.

Thankfully, anyone can win the race of our faith. We don’t need to belong to a well-funded race team or worry that we’ll fall short despite our best efforts, like so many Indy Car drivers of the past. God’s grace will fuel our victory, it’s guaranteed to work, and it’s free for the taking.

Our victory circle will be much more sweet than the jubilation that overflowed from Montoya, his family and teammates last Sunday. For, with all due respect to Indiana’s dairy farmers, we won’t drink milk but the new, rich wine of the wedding feast of the Lamb in the new Jerusalem.

(Sean Gallagher is a reporter for The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.)

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