Take Me Out to the… Church?

If you know anything about baseball, you know who Mariano Rivera is. From 1995 to present, Rivera has played a key role in the New York Yankees lineup- relief pitcher. Throughout his career, Rivera has accumulated one of the best records in baseball history including 600+ saves, 1,100+ strikeouts, twelve All-Star games, five World Series, World Series MVP (1999), and numerous others records and awards. Until now, the baseball god has only been known for his career with the Yankees, but Mariano Rivera recently opened up to New York Magazine about a part of his life that is even more important to him than baseball- his relationship with God.

“‘Everything I have and everything I became is because of the strength of the Lord, and through him I have accomplished everything,’ he tells me as a we sit shoulder to shoulder in the Yankees dugout on a temperate, breezy spring day last month. ‘Not because of my strength. Only by His love, His mercy, and His strength.’ It is the first of several conversations about God I have with Rivera, over several weeks, and in each meeting I find myself struck by how eager he is to put baseball aside and speak openly, and at length, about his faith. Even as Rivera denies that his talent belongs to him, I steal a look at his magic right arm. ‘You don’t own your gifts like a pair of jeans,’ he says.”

Rivera, 43, is currently in the midst of his last season as a New York Yankee before retiring this fall. His career is a part of a “golden age” in baseball history. Along with shortstop Derek Jeter, catcher Jorge Posada, and fellow pitcher Andy Pettitte, Rivera is a part of the “Fantastic Four“- a group that many would call some of the game’s finest players to date.

Throughout this interview with New York Magazine, it becomes very apparent that Rivera takes his faith and his relationship with God very seriously. “When you’re talking about the Lord, it’s your creator. Everything. Your Lord. Your owner. Your everything,” He proclaimed. “I do believe that if you call God our Lord, it means He rules over you and sometimes we don’t let him do that. We don’t let that happen. We call Him Lord, yes, but on circumstance. Not on everything. And how come if He’s our Lord, we don’t allow Him to rule over everything?”

Of course, this lead to the topic of homosexuality and Rivera’s own stance on the issue (I mean he’s a Christian celebrity, so of course it had to come up). “You want to be that, hey, you be it. If that’s going to make you happy, you be it. I do respect that, but I don’t share it,” Rivera explained. “If it’s the right thing to do– the Bible doesn’t tell me that.”

Rivera is the latest celebrity to voice his opinion on the issue- Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson recently voiced his opinion on the subject saying, “To each his own, [but] I’m not with it.”

But his personal relationship with God and his stance on same-sex marriage isn’t really what the interview spotlights. Rivera and his wife, Clara, are building a church in New Rochelle, NY of which his wife will be the pastor. Refugio de Esperanza (Refuge of Hope) already has several dozen people who meet at the Rivera home on a regular basis while the building is under construction.

Although he has made quite a name for himself in the world of baseball and will undoubtedly go down in MLB history, Mariano Rivera feels his true calling is to bring the word of God to people across the world. Some of his fans may disapprove of his beliefs, but it’s impossible not to have respect for Rivera as a person and an athlete. God gave him an arm which throws one of the most beautiful 90 MPH cutters that is practically unhittable, and made him one of the most celebrated relief pitchers ever. Now Rivera is following God’s calling on his life.

In a society in which Christian ideology is often mocked and laughed at as “old fashioned” or “closed minded,” it is refreshing to see an icon profess his faith in such an proud manner.

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This article was written by Julia Porterfield for A New Voice.

Follow Julia Porterfield on Twitter at @JK_Porterfield 

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