One aspect I love about joy is that it is often quite unexpected. The Christmas story affirms this notion. The first to recognize the Nativity of the Lord were the shepherds—lowly, everyday people. And nowhere is joy more unexpected than in sports. Athletic contests and pursuits, games and teams provide a rich seedbed for joy—unexpected, unsuspecting, simple and complicated.
Despite a weather forecast that called for a mere dusting, the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles played in a surprise blizzard Sunday. Snow started falling about 90 minutes before kickoff, and it didn't relent until early in the fourth quarter.
The field was covered before kickoff. The grounds crew could not keep up. They shoveled the yard lines and goal lines at every opportunity during the game but opted not to plow at halftime. There was just too much snow and not enough time or places to put it. The storm won. In all, eight inches fell in Lincoln Financial Field during the Eagles' 34-20 win.
Imagine football in a snow globe.Snow globes are magical; so is football in a snowstorm.
During my freshman year at Notre Dame, the Irish played Penn State at home. The final game of the season, the "Snow Bowl" is among the favorites of many ND students. New to snow, let alone a football game in it, I remember the energy that filled the stadium. The snow was beginning to flurry and with it, we cast our fate to the wind. I threw up my mittened hands and noticed everyone around me taking delight in mother nature.
|Birds Faithful. Awesome.
Fortunately sports offers many examples of unexpected joy. It's why we return to the yard, play the game, listen on the radio. I also think it's a convincing reason to be and remain a Christian. As written by a Dominican at my parish, Fr. Isaiah Mary Molano, O.P. says,
The Child Jesus will be among us in a matter of days. As we prepare for his coming, we admittedly have some expectations: the evergreen tree; the lights; the cookies; the carols.
On Gaudete Sunday, we stand in joyful expectation. We find ourselves wondering how the Child Jesus will come to us. God will most likely not come in the way that we would like or expect. He will most likely not show up in a thundercloud, or in your living room, or knock on your door and ask if there is an extra seat at the dinner table.
He will come to you in the silence of your heart, unexpectedly, through your friends, your family, or even through a prosaic conversation. He will speak through a random commercial on television, an overheard conversation, or even while shopping for presents. He will speak to your heart in ways unexpected.
Seek the Child Christ. Expect that He yearns for your presence. Expect that He will appear in your life in unexpected, prosaic ways. Expect to witness the unpredictable God.