It's fall, and that means it's football season. I sometimes watch the local NFL team on television. Sometimes I even watch the highlights from various sports contests on SportsCenter, along with some of the commentary and reporting on sports. Some may say, "Fr. Matt, you must like sports." And I respond that, "Sports can teach us some important lessons about the spiritual life." I don't mean to suggest that we should be watching SportsCenter instead of praying. I only suggest that sports, like other areas of life, can help us in our spiritual growth if we pay attention.
The first thing about sports that can be applied to the spiritual life is something you hear all the time from coaches: "Don't give up, keep playing, keep fighting..." The great championship basketball coach Jim Valvano used that phrase with his team, "Don't give up!"; he also used it in his battle with cancer, and in encouraging everyone to not give up.
Last year in the Super Bowl--this is the NFL Championship game for those who don't know--the Patriots were behind by 25 points with less than three minutes left in the third quarter. If you don't know football, 25 points is a big deficit, especially that late in the game. Some might even claim that it is insurmountable and that the Patriots would have done well to try to make it "respectable" by slowing things down and trying to keep the Falcons from making it any worse. But the Patriots did not choose that path...
They kept fighting and eventually tied the game and won in overtime.
Sometimes in our spiritual life it seems that we are behind by "a lot" and it is very late in the game. The lesson from sports is "Don't give up!" Remain faithful to prayer and to the spiritual journey! Keep asking, seeking, knocking, as Jesus counsels. Be faithful and persistent!
Perhaps there are areas of your life--art, business, being in nature--that also offer lessons that are applicable to the spiritual journey. What could you learn from these that would help in your spiritual journey?
In a future bulletin article I will offer another example from the world of sports that is helpful in the spiritual life and the Christian journey. May God bless us and give us the grace to "never give up!"