‘I couldn’t do it without Him’

By Father Collin Poston
Editor’s note: Father Poston, pastor of St. Mary in Hagerstown, wrote the following for his parish’s Christmas bulletin, which he shared with the Catholic Review.
Recently, I had an opportunity to get some exercise at my local gym. I like to run on the elliptical/stairmaster, for my “cardio” workout, and then lift some weights, whether dumbbells or using the machines there. While I was on the “leg press” machine (which I despise but do begrudgingly anyway, and then walk a bit wobbly for two days later) I noticed out of the corner of my eye a young, thin-but-athletic man in his young to mid-30s who was working out. He was a bit different: he was “hobbling” a bit, as he had an evident leg injury and was using a cane to move from machine to machine. Where it might take an average person only a few seconds to do this, for him it took almost a minute each time. But once he was at each one (mostly upper body exercises) he would just “get it” – he worked out harder than anyone else in the gym that day! The most amazing thing was watching him do pull-ups, all despite his leg injury, and then gingerly let himself down after he finished.
When he was resting, I came up and said “hi” to him, and we got into a good conversation.

“You’re the priest in the TV commercials, right?” he said (I hadn’t introduced myself yet, but I was wearing black gym clothes; I guess the “priestly black” gave me away – even in the gym.) So when we spoke, I eventually asked him (respectfully) what happened with his leg. He had been in a motorcycle accident 18 years ago, he said, and he has been “recovering” ever since. He had a dangerous spinal injury in the crash, and hence he can only walk with a cane; but he needed to exercise regularly after the accident and went through months of physical therapy just to get to where he is now.

I told him how I was very inspired by him and his example. When I asked him “how he did it,” he gave a simple, humble but profound little gesture: he just pointed up toward the ceiling and heaven, and had a very big, bright smile on his face, saying, “I couldn’t do it without Him.”
The reason we celebrate Christmas is so like my new friend Mark’s answer: as a human family, we couldn’t do it without Him. Without Jesus, we have no salvation, no redemption, no Incarnation, no life-death-Resurrection. As we celebrate this Christmas, may we do so with a humble gratitude for every blessing we have – and in a most special way the gift of faith that we have in Him. May the Christ-Child fill you with a newfound joy this Christmas, knowing that every blessing we have, visible or invisible, is his daily Christmas gift to us.
In Jesus, our little Lord and newborn King
Father Collin

Click here for more commentary.


Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.