By Helene Paharik Part 6 of a weekly series The baseball season is long gone, the World Series over and done. So how come I can still recall all too clearly that last Pirates game with the Cubs? I like baseball. There’s a beauty about the game in the way seasoned pros can make the difficult seem so smooth. Take the classic double play — grounder to the shortstop, flip to the second baseman covering the bag, who smoothly pivots and throws a dart to the first baseman stretching for it. It’s collaboration in motion, the pitcher’s best friend and manager’s delight. Collaboration means to “co-labor,” to work with others together as a team in a common purpose. In our prayer for the diocesan-wide On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative, we ask the Father of Mercy that he “endow us with your gifts of collaboration, courage and compassion.” We are asking God to help us to collaborate, to have courage and to act with compassion. Collaboration, courage and compassion. These are the keys to learning Jesus, loving Jesus and living Jesus. They will be required of us all as we plan for our common future On Mission for The Church Alive! There is a big difference between working alongside someone, each in his or her own cubical, and working with someone at a common table, sharing ideas and solving problems together. Watch toddlers as they play alongside each other. Put two tiny tots down on the floor and they will each play happily with their toy, not paying much attention to one another — like workers in cubicles! But the fun begins when these little ones develop language skills. They can now play together, sharing in their play. It is a sign of maturity to progress from playing alongside one another to playing with one another — collaboration! Why do we look for collaboration? The old life lesson is that two heads are better than one. But as we also learn from playing with our friends as little ones, it is also more fun. God loves us and collaborates with us. God invites us to work with him to make his love known through us. Jesus commissions us to be co-workers, collaborators in his vineyard. There is true joy in that mission. Just as God works with us, we all need to work with each other. We aren’t meant to go it alone. We are called to collaborate. We do that best when we are people of the beatitudes. When we are meek and never bully. When we never insist on “my” way but look for “our” way. When we adopt a gentle and kind approach. When we are humble in our own gifts but recognize and celebrate the gifts of others. When we hunger and thirst together for what is right and excellent. When we look to be a peacemaker. None of us can go it alone. Each of us has gifts, talents and insights that are needed as we seek together to meet the challenges we face On Mission for The Church Alive! Mature discipleship requires collaboration. Plus, as when the Bucs pull off a solid double play, it is more fun! Paharik is a diocesan associate general secretary.