When I decided to run XXXV LA Marathon last year, I wanted to give a big push in our parish to help pay our debt for our JP II building. It was a way of penance, an offering to God.
I mentioned in one of the Masses, a week before the marathon, that I will offer about 50.000 steps, about 10 steps per family. I did this marathon for the greater glory of the Lord. I did this marathon to pray for the five thousand families registered in our parish and I was glad to do that raise funds through this action.
My expectations for this race: to raise at least 5 grand. Today, I was told that about half that amount was collected. Even though I felt a little disappointed because my expectations were not met, I had great revelations during this race. One of my friends accompany me all the way through. I felt really blessed. It was the first time that I run alongside a friend all the way.
We were probably the last to come at the starting line. Oooops, we were a little late. The system connected to the ship of my bib number was already disconnected but one of the workers for LA Marathon input my number manually and we were running the first 3 miles with the cleaning crew around. We started praying the glorious mysteries of the rosary after mile three; I offered the third mile for the blessed Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. After that, we started praying the sorrowful mysteries. We finished reciting our second rosary by mile 10 or 11. In mile 12 I told my friend: let us pray the stations of the cross at mile 15. Guess what? Right after passing mile 15 there was an abortion clinic. We started praying the stations of the cross for the unborn and the mothers affected by abortion. It was very uplifting, I felt that I had wings. I did not feel pain. I started thinking and praying. Why you inspired me, Lord, to start praying the stations of the cross at mile 15 without knowing that there it was an abortion clinic? Obviously, the answer to this question is because the Lord wants me to pray for the unborn. It makes sense. When I mentioned my friend to pray the station of the cross 3 miles before, I was thinking on praying the regular stations of the cross; when the Lord gave me this message, I started praying the stations of the cross for the unborn. For me, this was the highlight of the marathon http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/stations-of-the-cross/stations-of-the-cross-for-life.cfm
By mile 20, we were about to start praying the joyful mysteries; there we found an interesting character that it is in one of the pictures I am sharing with you today. It was a person who was wearing a bear mascot costume. I started asking myself many questions: What a sacrifice..! It was not enough to run 26.2 miles? What could be the reason a person can do such a thing? I never asked this big running huge teddy bear any question. Then I started asking myself: what other sacrifices can I make during Lent to get closer to God and lead more people, more vocations to serve the Lord? What if I run next time with a cassock… Well, that idea I will be cooking for the next few months. My shirt was dedicated to vocations, our parish, and little kid (Isaac) who died of cancer last year. Only one person cheer for me for vocations… I thought maybe a white cassock will make a bigger impact to encourage vocations next time.
Anyways, passing mile 21 my body was still going without any problem but mild pain. We finished our last rosary by mile 24 before, almost reaching the last curve that will get us to the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica. A few more steps and we were close to finish 26.2 miles. What a blessing, what a wonderful experience. Now I know that when my legs cannot run, I can run with my heart.
Thank you, Lord… I also appreciate those parishioners who are supporting our parish through me with your prayers and with your donations. I will keep running around the parish appealing for more help after-marathon to reach the 5 grand… you can still submit your donation by the parish front desk until the end of this month… and then I will run at the gym trying to keep my weight down. With the help of the Lord, everything is possible and I will see you soon at Church. The coronavirus won’t stop us. We will keep running. FR JUAN MANUEL_SANDOVAL