Is there an * by your name? With the so-called “confession” of Mark McGuire that he used steroids during the years that he hit all of those home runs and broke the record of Roger Maris who himself broke the all-time record of Babe Ruth, we are once again hearing about putting an * next to baseball records.
As a reminder: in 1961 when Roger Maris hit 61 home runs to break the record of 60 set years earlier by Babe Ruth, the baseball commissioner demanded that Roger’s record of 61 include an asterisk to note that the baseball season in 1961 was a few games longer, so somehow Roger’s 61 was not as “worthy” as the record of 60 by the Babe. That offensive asterisk was removed a few years later.
Now that Mark McGuire and the other baseball hitters who have broken the Roger Maris record are all associated with, or at least accused of steroid use, it is being suggested that an asterisk be placed, once again, next to the Roger Maris record to indicate that his record was set without steroid use. Wouldn’t that be ironic – if the previous use of an * to defame his record was replaced with a new * to honor Roger Maris?
It leads me to wonder, is there an asterisk by my name? Is there one by yours?
Who among us is blameless and unblemished? I was not surprised, but I was very saddened to hear the McGuire confession (which was remorseful but still very defensive). I do not honor his use of steroids, and yet I wonder if any record of any sports hero at any time in history is truly without blemish. Once we start putting an * next to any name to note the person’s failures, whose name would be blameless? Not mine. Not yours. Not any human being that I know of.
We are told by scripture that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” In the Gospels, Jesus seems much more angry with the religious people of his day who tried to prove their own innocence, and Jesus was in fact quite forgiving toward those who had committed obvious sins and sought his forgiveness. This whole business of trying to be “blameless” is dangerous stuff. My name has an * next to it, and so does yours.
But scripture also tells us that there is another mark next to our names – the indication that we are children of God. In our baptism, and through our faith professions, we accept the fact that God has accepted us and forgiven us. Christians believe that Jesus, the only truly blameless one, has extended his righteousness to us through grace, and we are now marked as God’s beloved children. Do we always live like it? No. Do we often fail to honor our designation as the chosen ones of God? Yes. There is an * of failure next to all our names.
And yet, there is also another mark next to our names, a mark which indicates that we are the beloved ones of God. And now we are called to live like it.