I’ve learned there are many golfers who read these weekly Reflections. When I mention golf, they offer me advice like I’m sizing up an 80-yard chip shot over a water hazard to a back-sloping green. And I think that is a good thing. Two lessons I’ve learned from golf are that we’re all in this together and that the course will humble anyone. The avid golfers in the congregation have asked me how would Jesus be as a golfer and what would his score card look like. I think they were having some fun with me but like all priests I have to consider the serious, theological side, too. I’ve been pondering this question for the past week or so.
As far as we know, Jesus didn’t play golf. Nevertheless, I believe that Jesus would play golf because he always seemed to be walking somewhere and he never shied away from a challenge. But what would a perfect man do in golf? Would he play a perfect round and if so, what is a perfect round? I suppose that he could get 18 consecutive holes-in-one because only God could do that. Yet, Jesus was both God and human and frankly a score of 18 would seem to violate his humanity.
You may recall that a leader of North Korea was credited with a golf score of 38 on his first round ever. The myth is that he scored 8 or 10 holes-in-one. I’m a skeptic on this but let’s say it did happen. Is 38 a perfect score? Or would simply making par for the course be perfect?
What is perfect anyway? I’ve heard the phrase, “She is a perfect child, she never cries.” This seems to say that crying is an imperfection. Did Jesus never cry as a child? We know that Jesus cried after his friend Lazarus died so then is Jesus not perfect? Or, is a non-crying child perfect and is crying-once-in-a-while as an adult perfect, too? This perfection stuff is all very confusing to this quite imperfect person.
But back to the question, what would Jesus’ golf game be like. What would it be like to play golf with Jesus? Would he always be the first person to swing from the tee? Probably not because he said the last will be first. I imagine Jesus would be a supporting and calming effect. I would want to play my best for him yet know that he’d forgive me for every error.
But I don’t think Jesus would actually play golf. Instead, he’d insist on carrying my bag.
- Fr. Marshall