Today’s find: Crowd of witnesses

I noticed an odd sight during the final match of our Golf League season the other evening: something of a traffic jam on the fairway of the 7th hole.

I counted four motorized carts splayed across the close-cropped zoysia, with my own push-cart trailing just a bit behind. Five golfers, four carts – a sumptuous display.

And a peculiar one: It’s a rare thing for five golfers to comprise a single playing group. Four is generally the max; five-somes are typically banned. (In fact, our group that day formed somewhat accidentally, when my three-some caught up to the leading two-some on the tee box of the 3rd…due to slow play ahead of us all.)


Here’s something you don’t see every day: Five golfers, four carts on a single fairway.

But there we were, slogging away on the 7th. And in the process, I realized why five-somes are verboten. The rhythm of the group is all off: No one ever seems to know whose turn it is to hit…and therefore, the pace of play can slow to a crawl.

That said, it’s also true that your well-struck shots and niftily-sunk putts benefit from a larger crowd of witnesses. You’re gonna receive more “atta-boys” if you manage to play well in a five-some; not to mention, more consolations when those shots inevitably go astray.

Which is to say, golf can be a remarkably social game. After all, it’s entirely possible to play a round solo. But it’s not nearly as much fun as when you have someone there (or several someones) to notice whether or not you’re generally hitting the mark.

Golf, in that sense, is a lot like the spiritual life, I’d say. Certainly, it could happen that God would touch one’s heart, and reveal his presence in an individual (and isolated) way. But that’s not typically what we hear (or learn) about God in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Rather, revelation tends to be a process charged by a group dynamic: Someone hears the Good News, and then is compelled to share it.

And not just someone – but someones. Through the centuries, we’ve been blessed by a whole crowd of witnesses, to whom and through whom God speaks to humankind. Jesus alludes to this very blessing in the parable we hear at Mass this Sunday, when he has Abraham say to the rich-and-disconnected:

‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’

For my part, I’m glad to be able to meditate on the vast number of those who have been witnesses to the Good News in my life. The story they share is a profound mystery, after all – as Paul tells Timothy in today’s second reading. Paul reminds us that we are waiting, all of us:

…until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ that the blessed and only ruler will make manifest at the proper time, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

It’s kind of a lot to wrap your mind and heart around, isn’t it? And that’s why I don’t mind hearing it from a crowd. It strikes me as the kind of truth you need to encounter through more than one source.

You might also need to chew on it at a leisurely pace – kinda like when you’re playing golf in an odd setting like a five-some.


“The LORD shall reign forever; your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.” -Ps 146

Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.


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