Rome Reports has a delightful little video on how Pope Francis’ love of football comes through in his teaching.
He shows us at least six ways that following Jesus is like football. (Or soccer if you prefer.)
- Following Christ means joining His team. “Jesus asks us to be his disciples, for us to ‘play on His team’.”
- Following Christ means training, “training a lot”, as part of His team. The training we need to be His followers is prayer, the Sacraments, and helping others through service.
- Following Christ means we’re going to “slip and fall” on the field sometimes. But the pope said don’t be afraid, “always talk to Jesus in the good times and the bad times.”
- Following Christ means we have to pay the entrance fee. That fee “requires us to train ourselves, to ‘stay in shape'” so that we can, without fear, face the challenges of life and witness to our Faith.
- Following Christ means playing well is always more important than winning. “During a match, when you’re on the field, you always find beauty, gratitude and teamwork. If a team is missing that, it loses strength, even if it wins.” The important thing isn’t that we are always the most impressive Christians but that we love each other.
- Following Christ means we are offered “something greater than the World Cup.” (*GASP!*) Jesus offers us a full and happy life — and a never-ending future by His side.
I love the reminder that being Christian isn’t something totally removed from our experience.
We all know what it is to put something first in our lives: to train for it, sweat over it, and keep at it no matter what. We all have our own religion and our own god — even if it is football.
Christ didn’t come to condemn everything we are but to call us to follow Him as we are. In that, we learn who we are truly meant to be and He changes us to be more completely ourselves, the selves God created us to be. The resurrection of the dead isn’t about living forever; it’s about becoming truly alive.
This is the goal of all the saints: to be truly alive. The blessed news of the Gospel is that Christ has already scored it for us. (Oh yeah, I went there!)
This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. (Php 3:13-14)