Grace to you!
I don’t know much about golf, though my interest has increasingly grown, in part due to relationships with friends who live and breathe golf. Golfing is one of the best ways to get to know people and their true character.
During a recent chat with a friend who is all about golfing, he mentioned something that really caught my attention. “Fr. Maurice” he said, “Golfing is one of the best practical ways to know the level of people’s integrity.”
Golfing has many tricks. It’s the game with many subtleties. The rules are subtle too. It’s also a game where dishonest players could easily reveal their true color. From mulligan (a do over) to improving their lie, to not counting all their shots so as to improve their score, are common temptations revealing of people’s character. Or the allure to have an advantage for betting purposes (the so-called sandbaggers) by increasing one’s handicap.
In golf, the benefit of the doubt is given. Afterall, the game is expected to belong to true gentlemen and women. Unfortunately, not many live up to that ideal. Isn’t it like real life?
“In golf, when people cheat, they are not cheating others, they are cheating themselves, because golf is like life. In golf, it’s you playing against the golf course,” a friend suggested.
The rule of golf is a practical test of character. You really get a feel of a person’s character and temperament by playing golf with him or her.
Integrity. Honesty. These are beautiful attributes; and who would not want to be seen as possessing them. Yet, in real life, few do possess them. Nonetheless, it’s in integrity that the authority of unbeatable witnessing is built.
The integrity of a true witness is the correspondence between the rules of the game and the actual playing of it. The messenger of the God News and a true Christian witness is one who has allowed the holiness of Jesus, the God News of God, to breathe in them. A true witness lives the rules.
For Jesus’s disciples then and now, a fresher course on honesty and integrity is needed. Jesus speaks to its persuasive power: “A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
Sometimes I ask myself: what are the fruits I produce when I am like a golfer when no one is watching; when I know I am solely responsible to keeping the rules because that’s the way it’s played?
I pray we bear witness to the Good News by producing fruits consistent with the gospel we carry. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.