by Father Mark Goldasich
I did everything to avoid it.
I powered down my computer, iPhone and tablet. I made a vow not to join the other 113 million viewers of the Super Bowl nor attend any watch parties.
It’s not that I wasn’t interested in the game; in fact, just the opposite. I was too interested, too emotionally bound up with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The older I get, the less I can take the stress of the “big game,” especially when “my team” is playing. Instead, I wanted to create a cocoon of silence.
It’s a lot harder than you think. While I could shut out the external stimuli, I couldn’t quiet my mind to keep from wondering how things were going.
And then, it happened. The first boom of a firework. Did I really hear that? In no time at all, more booms. I leapt out of my chair and rushed to open my front door. The air was filled with car horns honking, people yelling and fireworks popping.
I didn’t have to ask why as I rushed to turn on the TV. Sure enough, the Chiefs had won in their usual fashion: coming from behind and going ahead with just seconds to spare! I’m sure that had I watched the game live, my heart wouldn’t have been able to take it.
Now that I knew the final score, however, I devoured all the postgame interviews, watched and rewatched the game’s highlights and savored the Chiefs’ victory.
While I know I shouldn’t get so tied up with a team or the big game, I can’t help myself. But when I know the final score, I can watch with a calm and joyful spirit.
I remember a story about some seminarians who played basketball at a nearby public school. An old Black janitor would patiently sit in the corner reading, waiting for the seminarians to finish so he could lock up.
One seminarian approached the janitor and asked what he was reading. He held up his Bible and said, “The Book of Revelation.” Knowing how complex that book is, the seminarian asked, “Do you understand it?!?”
“Yes,” the man replied.
“Really?” said the seminarian skeptically. “Well, what does it mean?”
With a humble smile, the janitor answered quietly, “It means that Jesus is gonna win.” (Adapted from a story by Bernard Travaieille in “Illustrations Unlimited,” edited by James. S. Hewett.)
As we prepare to enter the season of Lent next week, the champion Chiefs have much to teach us. First, it takes teamwork if we’re going to be successful. Knowing that we’re not alone in our Lenten prayer, fasting and almsgiving — but united with Catholics worldwide — can give us strength and hope.
Second, to be “good at Lent” takes practice. That’s why our “season” lasts 40 days, to give us time to build our spiritual muscles.
Third, it takes determination to not give up but play the whole game, right up to the end. Even when things get tough and it looks like a lost cause, persevere.
Fourth, manage the clock well. Make time daily for your Lenten resolutions.
Finally, trust the “coaches”: the Scriptures, the saints, spiritual writers, and Lenten devotions and activities.
Let’s enter this Lent with confidence because we already know that in the “big game” against sin and spiritual laziness, “Jesus is gonna win!”