Column: What is God like?

by Father Mark Goldasich

The guy should have been listening to the homily, but I will give this sports fan extra credit for being creative.

That’s the thought that first occurred to me as I read an entertaining e-mail recently. Facing a weekend without pro football, and with a nod to Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 3, take a few moments to enjoy this e-mail applying football terms to the Mass:

• Draft choice: Taking a seat near the back door of church.

• Benchwarmer: Those who sit in the pew, bored to death.

• Quarterback sneak: Those who receive Communion, then slink out of church, hoping that no one sees them.

• Backfield in motion: Making a trip to the restroom during the homily.

• Staying in the pocket: The money that should be going into the collection basket.

• Sudden death: When the priest preaches more than 15 minutes.

• Delay of game: When the priest is late in starting Mass.

• False start: People who are always two or three words ahead when the congregation is praying.

• Blitz: The stampede to the doors after Mass.

I’ll bet the next time you hear these terms mentioned during a football game, your mind will jump to some of these definitions. It’s OK. Jesus would understand.

He himself was a master at using common things as a way to teach the people of his time about God. The Gospels are full of stories about mustard seeds, sheep, wineskins, birds of the air, fishing, farming, coins, lamps, and wedding feasts. These very ordinary images acted as a hook to remind Jesus’ listeners of who God is — not someone distant and uncaring, but always close at hand and loving.

A few weeks ago, my priest group discussed what everyday objects Jesus might use today to teach us about God. How would he talk about cell phones, the Internet, sports, movies, fast food or laptops to help us feel God’s presence among us or understand his lessons more clearly?

Perhaps that’s the inspiration behind an assignment given to a 5th-grade religion class years ago. The teacher had her students use TV commercials to communicate ideas about God. Here are a few of their gems:

God is like a Ford: He’s got a better idea.

God is like Coke: He’s the real thing.

God is like Hallmark cards: He cares enough to send his very best.

God is like Tide: He gets the stains out that others leave behind.

God is like General Electric: He brings good things to life.

God is like Scotch tape: You can’t see him, but you know he’s there.

God is like All State: You’re in good hands with him.

God is like Dial soap: Aren’t you glad you have him? Don’t you wish everybody did?

Not wanting to leave all of the fun to those 5th-graders, I decided to add a few of my own:

God is like Jell-O: There’s always room for him.

God is like White Castle: He’s what you crave.

God is like Verizon Wireless: Can you hear me now? Good!

God is like Duracell batteries: Trusted everywhere.

God is like the Energizer bunny: He keeps going and going and going.

God is like Campbell’s soup: Mmm, mmm, good!

God is like Radio Shack: You got questions? He’s got answers.

This coming week we’re invited to celebrate Catholic Schools Week from Jan. 27-Feb. 2. My heart is filled with gratitude to all of the wonderful teachers I had during my almost 23 years of formal Catholic education. These dedicated people — nuns, priests and laywomen and men — taught me how to grow in faith, in knowledge and in compassion.

As a tribute to all who have taught you about God — whether in Catholic schools or in religious education programs, formally or informally — why not dust off your thinking cap this week and have a little fun trying to describe God through slogans or through common things around you.

Do your pastor or your teacher one little favor, though: Ponder on these things all you want, just not in class or during the homily!

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