Pastors keyboard: This week there is such an important event, I had to move two Masses to make room for it! It’s so important, a of day traffic all over the country disappears! It’s so important, people like me who rarely watch sports will be tuned in for three or more hours watching it and, usually, even before it begins! By now you probably guessed, I’m speaking of the Super Bowl! It’s not a religious event for most of us but for some people it’s as close as they get. It will not matter in the least to most who wins, but for some it will either make or break their week. I must admit, it is one of those days I really look forward to. Not because of who is playing, not because of the Sunday evening off, and not even for the commercials (most of which have become not so entertaining and way too sexualized), I like the fellowship!
For some years many of my brother priests get together all over the archdiocese to watch the game together (though we often mute the halftime show). It’s a time to enjoy food and conversation while hoping to watch the best athletes in football strive to do their best to win the game. It’s a great reminder of St. Paul’s council that we should live our spiritual life like athletes who work their hardest to prepare and play their best to win. He speaks of them as men who discipline their lives to win an earthly crown of fig leaves (common for the winner of a race in Ancient Rome), while today it’s for a trophy (made of gold). Both are nice, both symbolize triumph and success, but ultimately, both are nothing compared the Glory of Heaven.
I like to learn about how hard these athletes have worked to succeed and become the men they are today. It reminds me to ask myself how hard I am working in cooperation with the Grace of God to prepare for the end of my life. Am I willing to sacrifice lesser foods for the greater good the Lord is asking of me? Am I turning down the temptation to mediocrity to become a man of excellence in my prayer, family life, friendships, work life, and schoolwork? Am I aiming to become my best self with a daily plan of life? Am I becoming a man of virtue? These are the questions I ask myself when reading about the sacrifices that great men and women athletes make to be a success. When watching the Super Bowl this Sunday evening (hopefully in fellowship with others) I hope these self-reflection questions will be on your minds and maybe even lead you to some new or renewed New Year’s resolutions. This way we will all be good athletes in the spiritual life, seeking to live so as to win that imperishable crown of Glory that God our Father wishes to bestow upon us all.
Your brother and father in Christ,