Saturday, August 6, 2011


What's It Worth to You?

I’m currently teaching a course called “The Wisdom of Saint Benedict” in our high school. The course involves a lot of reflecting on certain topics (e.g. values, greed, community, obedience). The students then post their reflections on a team blog. (By next week I hope to have the routine down for being sure that the writing is corrected and revised before it gets posted. Once I’ve accomplished that I’ll invite you to look at our blog site.) The following is an example of a reflection on values by a student who looked at the person who caught the home run ball that was Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit. Apparently the lucky Yankee fan owes a lot of money in student loans and is about to get married. Suddenly he’s holding a baseball that is worth six figures in the sports marketing world. Here is one student's take on what happened:

Christian Lopez and the 3000th hit ball

Earlier this week, we spent time discussing an avid Yankees fan by the name of Christian Lopez. Christian Lopez was set apart from many other fans at the Yankees Stadium when he caught the ball that happened to be the ball that was u
sed for Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit. The ball was a valuable one indeed, and Christian Lopez knew of this along with many others. Mind you, Lopez had been struggling with certain finances and this ball could have been the end to all his problems. He could have received a six-figure payment if he had sold the ball and lived a debt-free life from then on, but instead he did what most men wouldn’t even consider doing: he gave the ball back to Derek Jeter. He didn’t just give back a baseball; he gave back an end to all his troubles. To do something like this takes a huge amount of sacrifice and consideration for another person’s achievements. Lopez did the right thing by giving the ball to the man who deserved to keep it, and he will always be remembered for the choice he made. Although some would laugh at the choice he made, many can agree that the choice was one most men don’t have the courage to make, and he should be proud that he did it. (Contributed by MW)

I had students do a worksheet analyzing the values at work in this incident. Toward the end of the sheet I asked them to answer the question “What would you have done?” followed by the assignment “In the space below write an email to Mr. Lopez telling him what you think of his action.” I was fascinated to see that a few kids who answered the question with “I would have kept the ball” then went on to “email” Lopez saying “You did the right thing by giving the ball back.” I was struck by the disconnect between what the students said they would have done and what they said was “the right thing to do.”

Someone pointed out to me in a conversation, however, that this is where moral growth and virtue start, with the perceived difference between what I know is the right thing and my practical choice to do otherwise.

Life in the Gap

The gap between who I am and who I’m called to be is the place where virtue resides, the crucible where saints are forged. I keep striving day after day to lessen the gap between who I am and who God intended for me to be when creating me. It’s in this striving rather than in arriving at “perfection” that I become a saint.

This is great news for us imperfect humans! Struggle? That I can do. But “Be perfect?” Well that’s a bit beyond my reach. I pray that I'll keep at the life-long task of lessening the gap in my own life

And I wish those students well, and pray that when they see their actions falling short of the ideal that they’ll keep striving to close that gap.

But mostly I wish Christian Lopez well, grateful to him for the challenge he posed to my students and me that Saturday afternoon. Something tells me that he's destined to lead a very happy life.
........................Go Christian!

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