Sports: That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.
Many people are obsessed with sports. A tremendous amount of money is spent on stadiums, player and management salaries, tickets, and clothing—not to mention gambling. Sporting events are entertainment, but can be blown way out of proportion. Moreover, the competition inherent in sporting events can lead to cheating, drug use, disrespect, and even violence.
Yet sports also have potential to do good. Pope Francis sees them as an opportunity for “encounter” in which the other person is recognized as good. Speaking to the International Olympic Committee, he said this.
“Engaging in sports, in fact, rouses us to go beyond ourselves and our own self interests in a healthy way; it trains the spirit in sacrifice and, if it is organized well, it fosters loyalty in interpersonal relations, friendship, and respect for rules. It is important that those involved at the various levels of sports promote human and religious values which form the foundation of a just and fraternal society. This is possible because the language of sports is universal; it extends across borders, language, race, religion and ideology; it possesses the capacity to unite people, together, by fostering dialogue and acceptance. This is a very valuable resource!”
Sports carry the potential for promoting “peace, sharing, and coexistence among peoples.” This is so important to Pope Francis, that the Vatican will be hosting a first-ever conference this October—“Sports at the Service of Humanity.” As we pray that sports may always be used, in the Pope’s words, to “build bridges, not walls,” we pray in a particular way for this October conference.
How do sports help or hinder me in my love for others, both friends and enemies?
1 Timothy 4: 7-10 “Physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect.”
Living the Gospel: That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.
The Letter to the Hebrews says that “the word of God is living and effective” (4: 12). This “word” is first of all Jesus himself. Jesus is the word that God spoke to the world—God’s perfect communication of who he is. This “Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1: 14).
Through the Church, the Body of Christ, the word takes flesh and is “living and effective” today. The words which Jesus taught us are not meant simply to be repeated, but lived, for, as the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.”
In this intention, Pope Francis says that there are three things that show Christians are living the Gospel. The first is “faith.” This is more than believing that God exists. It involves a relationship with God that includes trust. Jesus told us not to worry (see Matthew 6: 25-34) and the trusting peace that follows will lead people to wonder what our secret is.
Secondly, living the Gospel involves honesty. Jesus said he was the truth (John 15: 6) and
that he came to witness to the truth (John 18: 37). Our honesty with God, others, and ourselves is a hallmark of our Christianity.
But perhaps the greatest witness to our living the Gospel is our love for others. As Jesus said, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 35).
We pray with Pope Francis that all Christians may live the Gospel, for we may be the only Gospel that some people will ever see or hear.
How am I living the Gospel in ways that others can read?
Colossians 3: 12-17 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”