Good morning, this is the Rev'd Julie Golding Page for St. Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our daily devotionals come from the world of sports. Today, we'll continue talking about baseball and its parallels to our Christian faith.Like many Canadians, I root for the Toronto Blue Jays. They're my favourite team, and they have my favourite player - José Bautista. The 31-year-old outfielder hails from the Dominican Republic, and over the past couple of years, he's become a superstar for his slugging. In 2010, he set a Jays record for the most home runs in a season - 54 - and he had the most home runs in the Major leagues that year, too. Then last year, with another 43 homers, he led the leagues again.
As a result of all this, Bautista was selected by fans to be in the starting lineup at the annual All Star Game both last year and this year. The All Star game happens at just about the mid-point of the season, and it's an honour to be chosen. José Bautista set a record there last year, too. He garnered nearly 7.5 million votes - the most votes of any player selected last year, and he set a new record for the most votes given to any player, topping the previous record by more than 1 million.
You might think we're going to talk about home run hitting after all this, but José Bautista didn't stand out in that department at the All Star Game either year. Instead, he was noted for his excellent fielding skills, and giving his all to do his job well. His shining moment in the game last year was making a breathtakingly difficult catch in right field, sliding his way right up to the wall, and getting the out without dropping the ball. Sports broadcasters replayed that catch over and over, it was so impressive. Then this year, he did it again, this time making a rolling catch that looked impossible.
These catches would have been impressive anytime, but what made them even more news-worthy, was they were made at the All Star Game. Because this game isn't known for its hard-to-make plays. It's a match between the best National League and American League players, but nobody really goes out of their way to try too hard in the game. Because the only thing riding on this game, is home-field advantage for the two teams who end up in the World Series. Players are pretty careful and con-servative at the All Star Game, because they don't want to end up injured, when they go back to their own team and compete for what really counts - a chance to play in the postseason. The All Star Game is more a spectacle and a chance to have fun, than a real game. And so the players treat it that way.
But not Jose Bautista. He gave those outfield catches everything he had, even risking potential injury. He did his job and gave it his all - and the results, as they say, are history. Bautista's giving his all, even under circumstances that pretty much everybody would say didn't really matter, reminds me of something in the book of Colossians in the Bible. In chapter 3, verses 23-24, it says: "Don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ."
These verses are actually written to slaves, but I think we can safely apply them to ourselves, anytime we're doing any sort of work - for pay, as volunteers, or at home. No matter what we do, it's not really our boss or our friends or our families or even ourselves that we're responsible to, although of course all those people have a right to having work done well, too. Ultimately, though, whatever we're doing, however we're spending our time, talents and money - God is the one we're accountable to. So a half job is never acceptable. Remembering this is especially helpful, when you're doing a job that doesn't seem to get any pay or thanks or even notice. Because we can be confident that God notices and appreciates our good work, even if nobody else does. And this can help us to get through unpleasant tasks, too. They're still worth doing, and God gives us his seal of approval for our efforts. So whatever work you find yourself doing today, be encouraged that God notices that you're striving for excellence. He approves of your thoroughness, creativity, persistence and cheerfulness in your daily work, whatever it may be. For St. Patrick's, I'm Julie Golding Page.