by Father Mark Goldasich
I’ve never met Charles Ellis of Indianapolis, but I know that we’re kindred spirits.
Until reading about him, I was afraid to confess some- thing that I do, figuring it was so weird that people, upon hearing of it, may want to commit me to some safe mental facility . . . and the sooner, the better. My particular quirk concerns sports.
When I’m out watching Sporting KC, the Royals or the T-Bones at the stadium, I’m quite normal and en- joy the excitement of the on-field action. However, things change when I’m at home and a game is on TV. I turn into a nervous Nellie — pacing the floor, shouting out advice, wincing at every wrong move or boneheaded play. And the more important the game is, the more agitated I get.
Ideally, sports should be something recreational, something that takes your mind off the concerns and worries of life. When watch- ing sports turns into some- thing stressful, then something needs to be done.
So, here’s what my “something” is: I never watch a live game on TV anymore. Instead, I set my DVR to record it. When I know that the game is over, I get online and check what the final score was. If my team won,
I watch the game; if not, I erase it without a second thought.
Now, some people may think this is wacky. After all, isn’t the whole point
of watching live sports the thrill of entering into the ups and downs of the game? Well, not for me! I can’t tell you how much I enjoy watching a game when I know how it ends, when I know that my team is going to win. I calmly sit down, savoring popcorn and Pepsi, and let things unfold. Using my method, I know that, no matter how bad things look at any one point during the game, my team is going to come out on top.
And, I’m happy to report, Charles Ellis feels the same way!
In some sense, perhaps it’s my faith that has colored how I approach sports. For us Christians, we know the “end of the story” — both of Jesus and our own life. Death will never be the end; we will rise with Christ. Darkness will not prevail; light will reign. Sadness will always give way to rejoicing. Suffering will yield to relief.
Those were some of the feelings that helped me through the Boston Marathon bombing and the explosion of the fertilizer plant in Texas, to name just a couple of the more memorable tragedies of the last week or so. While my heart hurts for those who were killed and injured, I also draw great comfort from the response of the people around those horrific events. Watching the footage, I couldn’t help but be moved by the first responders, who put their lives on the line for the sake of others; by the people, even those who had just completed the marathon, who volunteered to give blood; by the residents who opened their doors to dazed strangers, offering them a hug, a place to rest, or some water; to the medical personnel, who tended to the many wounded; and to all whom I’m sure were there to comfort the families who lost loved ones.
These people, in a sense, remind us to look to “the end of the story.” As we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel, we have a Good Shepherd who never loses any of those he’s been given. Jesus cares for us in life and in death, when we experience blessings and when we muddle through tragedy. And he asks us to be good shepherds, announcers of the “end of the story,” for our troubled world, reminding it — through how we live our lives — that what appears so many times to be the end is, in the eyes of our loving God, just the beginning.