Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Scripture and Sport: Thank You Jeremy Lin

In his apostolic letter Porta Fidel Pope Benedict XVI declared a "Year of Faith" to begin on October 11, 2012 and conclude on November 24, 2013.  Perhaps you have seen a banner in your parish marking the journey or attended a talk related to how the Church will emphasize the theological virtue of faith. In Paul's letter to the Hebrews he writes that Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen (11:1). It is often accompanied by a leap. It can be weak or strong, vibrant and vital. Faith is a gift—a pearl of great price.

The Church and its leaders are guided by faith.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops writes “In the Acts of the Apostles, we learn that God has opened the door of faith for the early Church. But did you know that God has opened the door of faith for each one us and he invites us to step through the threshold into a deeper relationship with him. The upcoming Year of Faith is an opportunity for every Catholic to turn towards Jesus Christ, encounter him in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and rediscover the Faith and Church."
 This past year, I have prayed with this image. When did I see the face of Christ today?
BXVI called us in three specific ways to deepen our relationship to Christ—essentially to reveal the message of 17:5 Lord! increase our faith.
1.     Study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II
2.     Deepen knowledge and understanding of the Catechism
3.     Focus on the “New Evangelization” first promoted by John Paul II at the new millennium
While many Catholics are aware of Vatican II and the Catechism, this “New Evangelization” is largely unfamiliar.  What is it?

According to the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, “The New Evangelization calls each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel. The focus of the New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be evangelized and then go forth to evangelize. The New Evangelization invites each Catholic to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.”

Evangelization isn’t exactly what Catholics are known for…and yet, it’s what we are each called to do. The “New Evangelization” suggests that we should also find new ways and mechanisms (or mediums) by which to evangelize.  Catholic tradition leans toward the example of one’s life as the best way to evangelize. I agree, but I believe that humor, sports and the principle of sacramentality—finding God in all things—is an ideal and invitational way to do so. Sports need not be a separate from spirituality. Rather, one can compliment the other.  And humor is always a welcome thing. 

One person who has found a way to do that is Jeremy Lin, point guard for the Houston Rockets. A non-denominational Christian, Lin like many others knows and loves the Word of God first hand. It is front and center of his message—be it an interview about his life or a fun project he created with friends. His knowledge of Scripture is something he shared with the world. I have no doubt that knowledge guides his life, influences his decisions—both big and small and provides peaceful solace.

A friend shared "You've Changed Bro" with me because it's both hilarious and its end is surprising. As I read the final words on the screen, I thought that Jeremy Lin evangelizes in a way that the “New Evangelization” calls for.  He illustrates through story what Christ has called us to do and who He has called us to be.
Check it out for yourself. For those of you who know much if anything about his life, you'll have a great laugh. And for those who do not, you will still get the message...which isn't his message, but one from St. Paul. Let me know what you think….

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