SUPER BOWL SUNDAY
Do you realize you hold the ultimate ticket in your hand?
Better than a 50 yard line, 3rd row up with all expenses paid to a Super Bowl? More valuable than a perfectly matched Power Ball ticket; better than an acceptance letter to the college of your choice, with a 100% scholarship included? Whatever might be your highest dream, if it is not going to bring you to heaven, it is ultimately worthless: The Mass is THE Sunday Ticket
So how do we apply our faith and approach to the Mass to our world immersed with sports? In anticipation of the Super Bowl, below are a variety of approaches to guide us:
ARRANGE OUR DAY AROUND IT What takes priority? Most have a normal Mass schedule. When an important sports event (high school, college or professional) is scheduled, what gets priority? Do I ever decide to watch or attend the game, even if it means I cannot get to Mass? How about preparation? Do I prepare for the game by shopping for special food for the game? Do I give preparation for the Mass at least an equal amount of time? Do I read the weekend readings ahead of time? Do I find a good reflection and spend time preparing my mind? Does the result of a game ruin my attitude for the rest of the day or week? Could arranging our Sunday around the Mass affect our attitude for the rest of the week?
KNOW THE RULE BOOK We all know the rules of the game, we understand why there are rules, and become upset when calls are missed. Are you aware there are liturgical rules that govern the Mass? They tell us when and why we sit and stand at proper moments, and what these body positions mean. Why do we use incense; why do we process into the church; why do we wear the color vestments, and why can’t we use blue or orange vestments? Understanding these things help us know what is going on and can help us get more out of the Mass.
TALK ABOUT IT THE NEXT DAY A great game is talked about over the water cooler for days following the game. Missed calls dominate social media and can even change how the rules are interpreted. Do you ever continue the conversation on what we heard at Mass? Have you ever re-read the readings and talk about the homily, seeking ways to make the Mass impact our daily life throughout the week? Is the Mass simply an obligation, or does it impact our actions, our choices and our words during the week?
REMEMBER WHY YOU ARE HERE The game is about the action on the field. It is for the fans, but it is not about the fans. Take away the game, and what do you have? The Mass, too, is not about you (or me). It is about the sacrifice Christ has made for us, a sacrifice that is made present at each Mass. It is not that Christ suffers again and again, but God, being outside time, exists in an eternal ‘present’. At the sacrifice of the Mass, we enter into His ‘presence’, into His ‘eternal now’. From God’s perspective, all of creation, from the origins of the universe, to Adam and Eve, to Christ, to today and extending to the end of time is not a sequential order of events. We need to remember that we are not at Mass to be entertained; it is not about the music, the preaching, the hospitality or anything else we might add. It is about Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, and the sacrifice He offered once for our sins, for the salvation of the entire world. Take away the sacrifice on the altar, and nothing else matters.
One last point I would like to make concerns the tragedy of last Sunday. A premier sports figure died in a helicopter crash along with his daughter and some other associates. I have read articles about Kobe Bryant in the past, and knew he was raised Catholic, but had gone through a time of not practicing his faith. However, he returned to the practice of his faith and was known in his parish community, and had attended Sunday Mass with his daughter that morning. In this, he was a great example to all of us, in making God first in our lives. May God have mercy upon his soul and all the faithful departed.
God bless Fr Jim