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We are Champions

On Wednesday morning, my run included a few loops around Old Campus. I was just a few strides into the fifth mile when a verse from Queen’s anthemic “We are the Champions” played through my mind: 

“'s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise. 

I consider it a challenge before the human race 

And I ain't gonna lose.” 

As the sun shined on the flagstones beneath my feet, my thoughts turned to the Acts of the Apostles, which we’ve been listening to throughout the Easter Season. The Book tells the story of the fledgling Church, and the resilience of the first disciples living in the light of the Risen Christ, and the faith that moved and changed them.  

For the past few days, the readings have highlighted the experience of Peter and John, as they carry on Christ’s ministry, healing, teaching, and boldly proclaiming the Gospel. They face dual realities of acceptance and rejection as they spread the message of Christ’s resurrection. Their life in Christ was fraught with challenges, including imprisonment and physical persecution. Yet, sustained by their unwavering faith, they stay committed, moved by unyielding determination to continue their mission.  

The juxtaposition of the apostles’ hardships with the triumphant strains of “We are the Champions” stirred within me a profound reflection on the essence of faith, and everything that an authentic life of faith entails. In the midst of their imprisonment for proclaiming the Gospel, we hear that “the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” As present-day disciples, we are called to bear witness—much like Peter and John—to the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all that we say and do, and to move through life in Christ, with all its joys and blessings, while also facing our inevitable challenges and trials with unwavering resolve. 

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Eternal life isn’t merely a distant promise but a transformative reality that must permeate every aspect of our existence, shaping our perspectives, giving divine purpose to our lives, informing our choices, our actions, how we think, and how we treat people. We live in to eternal life now by embracing the message of Jesus Christ, and living a life of radical discipleship—a life marked by both the joys of communion with God and the challenges of bearing witness to His truth in a world often hostile to it.  

By our faith in Jesus Christ, we have been set free, made for eternal life, and EVERYTHING that comes with this life, on this side of eternity, and on the other in Heaven. Jesus did not promise an easy life, nor a life without struggle or suffering or persecution or rejection, but "eternal life.” With that in mind, we might ask ourselves, what is it about having received the Gospel of Jesus Christ that makes us look at life differently, and desire to want to live differently? What is it about receiving the love, the wisdom, and the truth of Jesus Christ that makes us want strive for holiness, the grace and blessings, but also to embrace the trials, the tribulations, the sacrifices, and the sufferings that come with the promise of eternal life?  

Just as the angel instructed the apostles to “tell the people everything about this life,” our faith in Christ compels us to run forth to boldly proclaim His resurrection and the transformative power of His love. As I returned to STM, taking the final strides down Park Street, Freddie Mercury’s voice faded and was replaced by the quiet assurance that with every step I am called to emulate the fortitude and resilience of those who have gone before me. May we, like the apostles of old, run forth with unwavering faith, proclaiming the Risen Christ with confidence, and the certainty of Christ’s victory over sin and death, and that in Him, “we are champions.” 

Fr. Ryan Lerner, Chaplain

Fr. Ryan Lerner, Chaplain

Fr. Ryan Lerner is Yale's 8th Catholic Chaplain.