By FATHER JIM
Many would say that the greatest thing about sports is to win a championship, to gain a star status in the records for whatever the sport or event is.
Honor, titles, trophies and awards are what motivate many people of all ages to take part in, or just watch sports.
The summer season especially delights us with a promise of baseball, golfing, fishing, tennis, soccer and so much more in the light of summer days and mild evenings as well.
In the Palestra, the University of Pennsylvania basketball arena, a plaque on the wall there offers a bit of a different perspective on what is so great about sports. It reads: “To win the game is great, to play the game is greater … but to love the game is the greatest of all.”
This reminds us that, after all, a game is just a game and the joy it brings should be most important, whether we win or lose.
A man in the Gospels asked Jesus once about greatness. The question was, “Which of the Commandments is the greatest?”
The Good Lord answered saying, “You should love God with all your heart and mind and soul, and love others as you would like to be loved.”
As with sports, in this summertime or anytime, our desire to love God and church, Sacraments and people is what counts, even when we’re not as perfect or as pure as we’d like to be. Some are real all-stars in being “good” Catholics and Christians; most folks struggle to do their best and hopefully keep in mind that the intention and desire to love God can make up for our falling short, sometimes.
A poet once said that the two most beautiful words in the English language are “summer afternoon.” God willing, we will have blue skies and balmy weather through these days of July and August and reaching into September as well.
To practice our faith in a dependable and dutiful way will bring its own blessings and grace, allowing for some summer joy.
This reminds me of the story about the two guys who were fishing on a beautiful summer Sunday morning up at the lake. The fellow said, “I feel guilty skipping church today” whereupon his fishing partner responded, “I couldn’t have gone to church anyway; my poor wife is home sick.”