Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British historical drama. The setting is the 1924 Olympics in France. Eric Liddell, a Scottish and a devout Christian runs for the glory of God. While boarding the boat to Paris for the Olympics, Liddell learns that the heat for his 100-metre race will be on a Sunday. He refuses to run the race because his Christian convictions prevent him from running on the Sabbath. The film’s title was inspired by the line, “Bring me my chariot of fire,” from the William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem”. The poem is heard at the end of the film. The original phrase “chariot(s) of fire” is from today’s scripture reading, 2 Kings 2:11 and 6:17.
The story of Eric Liddell reminds us that life is not about winning or losing, but rather how can we glorify God. The fact of the matter is that most of us are losers in the game of life. Sports fans know that in every athletic contest there is always only one winner and the rest are losers. The students who went to law school or who are currently in law school, know that only a small group of students will finish in the top 5 %, and only handful of students will make it to the Law Review editorial board. Those who are in academia know that in the highly competitive academic job market only a few people will be able to secure a permanent employment. The rest are losers.
Jesus reminds us that life is not about winning or losing. In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that life is not about striving for the recognition of being a good person. Jesus says when you pray, do not pray on street corners but go to your inner room; when you fast, do not look gloomy, but anoint your head and wash your face. At the end of the day, most of us never receive a winning trophy, never finish in top of our class and never receive a tenure track appointment and so forth. However, we are loved losers as our Father who sees what is hidden will reward us.