Thank YOU!

Thank YOU!

Not exactly breaking news, but did you hear that the Packers won? Since 6 February 2011 many people, reporters included, have been asking what I chose to preach about for my game day homily, given I asked in this forum for some homiletic suggestions. The title for this specific posting gives you a hint as to what I preached about. But first, let me offer a little background here.

Before I left for Dallas, the Packers asked me to be prepared to celebrate up to three or four weekend Masses. Once I arrived on the scene in Texas, I discovered why: the majority of the organization was there and many of them were expecting a Mass to begin the start of the game day activities.

The first Mass I offered on Game Day was the normal team Mass that we always have on the day of the game. While the numbers attending that first Mass was pretty consistent with the crowd we had been gathering throughout the playoffs, some of the regular worshippers were absent, however; and I suspect that's due to a couple of issues. First, the security at our team hotel was intense. Some simply were not allowed into the hotel. And second, I think some people thought they should attend the next Mass as they assumed this would be a pretty intense situation for the coaches especially, so some private space was offered!

After the team Mass, I was driven over to the neighboring hotel where our employees were housed. When I arrived on the scene next door, there was much joy and anticipation as the tailgate party was ready to roll -- most would choose to engage in such activities after the Mass! We maxed-out the conference room but that did not prohibit those worshippers outside the doors from joining in the Communion procession which seemed to go on and on an on. It was like a scene out of Old Saint Joe's!

Both Masses were equally beautiful, but certainly in different ways. The Team Mass was actually quite emotional, and I guess I should not say much more other than to suggest that it was great to see the entire McCarthy family prayerfully supporting their son, brother, uncle, husband and father, Mike. The second Mass seemed like a pep-rally of sorts, yet quite reverent! The folks channeled their intense energy into the recitation of their prayerful responses. I'll never forget the events of the entire day; naturally, the memories of the Masses will remain with me for a lifetime.

And that's why I asked for your help. But extending the invitation to you to offer your thoughts for the homily based on the readings of the day, I really did not know what to expect. I thought a few would write in to simply suggest that I keep it short and simply offer something not-so-profound such as, acclaim 'Go Pack Go' and call it a day. But the written responses here and to my personal email and even written letters sent to the college were overwhelming in number and profound content. I remember thinking, "Wow, you folks should be doing this for a living!"

Then I discovered from a few Norbertine Confreres that my invitation was reported on National Public Radio. Soon the media requests started to develop, first local media such as newspapers, radio stations and the local TV stations. This eventually gave way to national radio programs such as those offered on Sirius - XM Radio's, "The Catholic Channel," EWTN, ESPN and Fox News Channel. Sometimes I think people suspect that since I am an extrovert that I look forward to these events. Quite the opposite! There is a shy side to me that surprises many, and it seems to take over whenever I have camera lenses in my face. I did say yes to the national media live interviews, but thanks be to God, the ice storm in Dallas that Friday morning resulted in the cancellation of the ESPN and Fox News Channel interviews: all of which suggests that God answers prayers!

All reporters asked the same question: given the great responses you have gotten, what will you preach about on Sunday morning? Well, I decided to give voice to all of you who had written in. While still at the college until late Wednesday night and with the help of the SNC Copy Center, I put together an 11 x 17, single space, 26 page booklet filled with your suggestions. I swear to God, that duffel bag filled with the booklets must have been a good 40 pounds of spirituality! Folks grabbed them at the end of Mass either for added inspiration before the game, for plane riding material for the trip home or simply for a Super Bowl souvenir. It was the best way I could consider all of your suggestions in a tangible way to thank you for your time and effort. I am sure the Packers thank you as well.

So in the limited time that I had to offer two back-to-back Masses, I focused on one word from the Holy Gospel:


In that weekend's Gospel, Christ stated, "You are the salt of the earth." "You are the light of the world!" I find that remarkable in the Gospel. Of all the people in the world who could "strike a pose" and say "I am the salt of the earth; I am the light of the world," we discover that Jesus points the finger to us: giving us the grace, the authority, the ability, the command to be salt and light. It's a reminder of all that God has given to us; and yes, all that God expects of us as well: no small suggestion or hope -- but the expectation that we will use our gifts and talents to bring flavor and light into the world.

I had suggested that such an attitude is what the Packers had embodied over the course of the past season. Like Christ, our general manager, our coach, our quarterback and all of the Packers consistently pointed affirming fingers to others. Ted never said, "Look what I built." Mike never suggested, "It's all because of my play calling." Aaron never once asserted, "I'm the one who's making the plays around here." No, everyone in his own unique way drew attention to the giftedness of the other. I suggested that such a self-less spirit was not only manly or decent for team chemistry, but it is Godly in light of the day's Gospel. And in doing so, using our gifts and talents to build up one another, our teammates, our families and our community, we are building a Church, and in doing so, we do become the light of the world, the salt of the earth.

And yet our first two readings also reminded us to consider from where such gifts come and then remind us that it is payback time! The second reading for the weekend was a reminder that we have our parents, coaches, fans, supporters... ... so many people to thank for getting us to this moment, but amidst such good people in our lives, "your faith rests not on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God!" "Every good and perfect gift comes from above," as Saint James would offer! And our first reading reminded us of the need to share bread, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless... ... ... that's when your light will shine.

Those who gathered in worship that morning were reminded that the use of their gifts on that field is a way to let your light shine, but it's not the only way. That one day they will be former athletes, and that upon our return home on Monday, when the game is finished, the Church then asks us to offer our gifts, time, talent and treasure to give even more from the storehouse of our blessings. A reminder once again, that to "those who have been given much, much will be required from you... ... ..."

And while one game is finished and another season has ended, a new day dawns. The Packers have proven what they can do on the field. Let's continue to watch how they can continue to inspire us with even more significance as they attempt to be, at the Lord's command, the "Light of the World," the "Salt of the Earth," a "City Set on a Mountain!"


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.