But I will leave as a remnant in your midst, a holy people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord: the remnant of Israel. —Zep 3:1-2, 9-13
Tomorrow, Argentina and France will face off in the finals of the 2022 World Cup. It is safe to say that the two faces that represent each team are Lionel Messi (ARG) and Kylian Mbappé (FRA). While soccer fans are anxious to see if Messi will secure his first World Cup victory, there is something worth paying attention to in France's forward Kylian Mbappé. Yes, he's fast but there's more to his game. Think of him this way: as a remnant…
The remnant is a recurring theme throughout the Bible. The Anchor Bible Dictionary describes it as "What is left of a community after it undergoes a catastrophe." The concept has stronger representation in the Old Testament than in the New Testament.
Though the door has yet to officially close on the COVID-19 pandemic, it is safe to say our world underwent a colossal catastrophe. It might be wise to consider What is left? I would like to offer but one answer....and invite you to put Mbappé to your mind's eye as a reminder.
COVID forced us to slow down. We had no choice but to stay home, stay local and stay safe. Though far from a retreat, the tough, long and even dark days of COVID were not hurried. Traffic subsided, we reviewed our expectations and minimized our obligations. We were forced to put on the brakes—even when we did not want to.
There is great wisdom in slowing down. As Matthew Kelly says "our obsession with efficiency and remaining on the go often lures us away from what matters most."
What matters most are what the Christmas season brings—occasion for family and friends to come together, the rich rituals and traditions of Advent, the celebration of the Incarnation, the joy of giving, sweets and treats, and new memories to make. Sadly, the pressing demands, expectations and obligations of it all lead to stress, anxiety and the inability to do what we should: rest, relax, slow down, enjoy. Some people are able to do, others are not.
An avid soccer fan and good friend shared this insight with me. "When asked about Mbappé and what makes him so special—speed is the usual response. But a true connoisseur if the sport replied. “It’s not his speed, but his brakes.”
When you watch the finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, look to Mbappé—the remnant— and how he puts on the brakes. Take some time to slow down and reflect further upon what matters most this Christmas.