Bishop Arthur Serratelli was the celebrant and homilist at Sunday’s Feast Day Mass of Saint Michael the Archangel at St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church on Cianci Street in Paterson. The liturgy was reverently celebrated; and the music was angelic and beautiful.
Bishop Serratelli gave a great, thought provoking homily. He told the story of Tanzanian John Stephen Akhwari, who competed in the marathon of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Akhwari is not known for winning the marathon, quite the opposite actually. He is best know for losing the marathon.
Somewhere along the course of the race, Akhwari hurt his knee. The medics advised him to give up, but he refused. He hobbled his way through the rest of the marathon. Upon making it back to Olympic Stadium, the crowd began to cheer him on. Akhwari may have been in last place, but he finished the race.
When Akhwari was asked why he refused to drop out of the marathon due to his severe injuries, he said, “My country did not send me 11,000 kilometers to start the Olympic Marathon. They sent me here to finish it.” WOW. Now those are powerful words.
After retelling this story, Bishop Serratelli related the perseverance and determination of John Stephen Akhwari to that of the Cross. No matter how heavy our crosses are, no matter how many obstacles we have to overcome, we are here to finish the race called life, and finish it well.