Saturday, December 17, 2022

Kylian Mbappé: The Remnant

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…

When I hear the word “remnant,” I think of a fabric and material—stacks or piles of it. Growing up, my mom sewed a lot. I would accompany her at the fabric store. I was drawn to the beautiful patterns, and colors of remnants. Each one was marked on discount. Why? Remnants are what is left. They are what remains on a bolt of fabric. The Prophet Zephaniah was addressing something similar, yet different. 

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. 

This is where a careful analysis of one's own life and the game of Mbappé might help.

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.” 

Slowing down is a skill worth developing. It might actually take practice and effort—but it won't take away from your day—it will add to it. Do you agree?

Examples and exemplars help. Who in your life is good at taking the "hurry" out of their day? Who comes to mind when you think of "putting on the brakes" in a tactical, important way?  

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. 

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