I just returned from the movie, Forty two about baseball player, Jackie Robinson and all he encountered entering major league baseball as a black man. The owner of the Dodgers, Mr. Rickey, gave Jackie some wonderful advice, that he had to learn to be like Jesus, to turn the other cheek. He told him that he would have to be tough, and a man of virtue, an unflappable gentleman. Robinson’s virtues were tested as the films shows with the managers of other teams verbally bullying him, pitchers throwing fast balls into his head… What stood out was the power in Jackie and in each of for that matter, to choose to love, even in the face of extreme brutality. Jackie’s witness to “play ball” and not return hate for hate converted his hesitant teammates, other managers and the multitudes that watched him.
I remember my grandfather, Grandpa Carl, speak to me about Jackie Robinson. He was his favorite… and now I see why! His life speaks of the power of love, of the love of Jesus that can come through us, if we let go of the clamor of our own selfish egos which can be wounded by ridicule. I saw the power of Jackie making the decision to hold his tongue, return the blows with a quiet smile. He shows us how we can maintain our composure when the Cross comes. He shows us how to become the person God would have us become by our simple, garden variety choices.
I am reminded of a quote shared with me from a priest friend from John of the Cross. My friend shared from St. John of the Cross, that man is weak, “man does not do these things but God does them through us. Where there is no love put love and you will draw out love.” That is what Jackie Robinson did and that is what God asks of us, to put love in the situations we encounter, for then we will draw love out. Jackie Robinson shows us a way. Where would God have you begin to love? ~Mary