The Rev. Andrew Greeley
is a Roman Catholic priest and novelist who sermons use stories to convey a Gospel message. Below is his story of Christian hope:
When Mollie Whuppi and her friends were in eighth grade, they discovered at one of the parks in their neighborhood a game called women’s softball. It wasn’t really sixteen inch softball like we play in Chicago but smaller softball which is played in most of the rest of the country which is not as civilized as Chicago. Anyway, they liked the game and decided that there should be a women’s team at Mother Mary High School. So the first week of their Freshman year in high school Mollie walked into the principal’s office and demanded that their be a team. The principal had yet to learn that Mollie was the boss, so she said. Go organized your team Mollie. We don’t have money for coaches or uniforms or a team bus but we can buy a couple of bats for you. Mollie said that was just fine. She’d be manager and coach too and they’d save money to buy their own uniforms. So, even though she was busy with other things like being class president and president of the chess club and chairman of the social action committee – and lots of other things besides, she organized the softball team. Now as everyone knows young women are much more serious about sports then young men so they practice very hard. Mollie told them it would take three years of experience before they could win city.
The first year, they were terrible, the second year they were pretty good and the third year they surprised everyone by getting to the city finals. They had to ride across town in their parents’ SUVs and the reception was very unfriendly. The crowd booed them. Boys shouted bad words at them. The other team snarled and made fun of their uniforms. But with Mollie on the mound Mother held the others scoreless and hitless for six innings. In the first half of the seventh Mollie hit a home run so going into the last of the seventh (softball games last only seven innings) Mother Mary was up 1-0. Mollie struck out the first two batters. Then she pitched three straight strikes to the last batter. But the umpire, who made no secret of which side he was on, called them balls. Everyone knew that Mollie’s four pitch was a strike too, but the ump waved the batter down to first based. Then the next batter hit a long foul ball – everyone knew it was a foul ball, but the ump called it fair. The tying run scored. The throw from right field was slow but Mollie caught it and ran to the plate to tag the hitter out by a mile. The ump called her safe. The crowds went wild with laugher. The winners stalked off the field. The Mother Mary players didn’t curse, they didn’t shout. They just cried. All except Mollie. Chill out, she shouted, we’re still on our game plan. Next year we will play them at home and we’ll win, just like we planned. The players from Mother Mary stalked out of the field chanting, “wait till next year” the battle cry of defeated sports teams and political parties–a hint of the Christian Hope that next year will be better even when this year is the last year of our life.