In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul uses olympian athletic language to describe the struggle through life to achieve the crowning heavenly glory. You could generally apply the imagery of your favourite sport as an analogy of life’s struggles on the way to Heaven. I think this is what makes either watching or playing sports so intriguing, because of that subtle theological connection to our innate personal struggles in life.
As a rider of the Seattle Seahawks’ bandwagon, reflecting on the remaining minutes of the last couple of NFL football games (the NFC Finals and the Superbowl) really drove home the point that we should never be presumptuous of our destinies.
Starting with the NFC Championships, the Seahawks were far behind Green Bay well into the 3rd quarter, and many fans even gave up and left the stadium early to beat the traffic. The Seattle team’s determination didn’t waver, even with just a few minutes left until the end of the game. A few smart plays and determination ended up with them turning the lead around to their favour through the end of the game, clinching their spot in the Superbowl.
On the other hand, even though they were trailing toward the end of the Big Game, certain moments like a near-miraculous catch with a minute to go led the most seasoned experts to believe that victory was at hand. Instead, a miscalculated risky move resulted in a turnover which stole the win away and the New England Patriots prevailed instead.
Moments like these in sports remind me that God’s infinite mercy allows us to pick ourselves up no matter where we are in life, no matter how far behind or how far off being in good graces appears to be, and we can have the final victory. Also, we must be cognizant of forces that attempt to throw us off our game, especially towards our decisive end where we must face our fate. We may think we’re on the straight and narrow and working our hard-earned saintly selves into God’s kingdom, but it is said that the Devil works extra hard on us in our most weakest times and we count on prayers and sacraments to sustain us, as long as we are open to those graces. This is why we can say that we’re “saved” but we prefer not to use that language because we must continue to work out our salvation throughout “in fear and trembling” as Paul says. It’s presumptuous to think the game is over at the halfway mark, especially when it’s the Big Game and our opponent is formidable.
So we pray to the pre-eminent saint, Mary Mother of God to “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death” to keep the graces flowing and to guide our decisions such that they bring us to union with our heavenly Father at the final moment of our game.