Super Bowl Sunday. Food. Family. Friends. Two teams looking to win sport’s most coveted trophy. Does it get any bigger in the sports world than this? Alright, so it does for me; I am a Vikings fan. But you get my point…
As these teams prepare to set foot on the field in Miami on February 7, eye paint smeared, voices raised, adrenaline coursing through their veins, they cannot help but be reminded of all the hard work that has taken them this far. Coaches are proud of their players, players are proud of their coaches, and fans are proud of both. It has all become worth it. The grueling days of practice in blistering heat and biting cold, waking up at 5:00 AM to run sprints, it has all taken them down the road to Super Bowl Sunday.
I am sure that when Peyton Manning and Drew Brees put on their Jerseys on February 7, they will be reminded of the tradition and history of both their teams. They will be proud to walk out on the field wearing their respective colors, knowing that all their hard work, and that of their teammates, has brought them to this moment. And it is a big moment!
Thinking about Super Bowl Sunday, and the amount of pressure and attention is grabs, I could not help but think of the big moments in our faith. Of course, Easter Sunday and Christmas day are right up there. With all the big days in our faith come special graces and blessings that we hold dear to our hearts. However, we as Christians are not called to pray any harder on those days than any other day. Yes, there is definitely build up for the great days of our faith, but within each one of those days of build-up, we are called to live our faith in the greatest of ways.
Aren’t we called to put on our jersey too? Our jersey is that of the yoke of Jesus Christ. Are we not reminded, each day in our faith, of the rich tradition and history that has granted us the ability to believe so strong? The difference is that this jersey, this reminder of our tradition, is not something that is put on for a particular day. For Christians, each day is the Super Bowl of faith. Each day we undertake hard work and many grueling tasks doing them completely for our God. Each day calls us to not forget those who have gone before us, remembering who we are and who we were created to be.
When I travel to speak at gatherings across the country, I see many who stand up and proclaim their belief and love for Jesus Christ with everything they have. It is so refreshing to see the many who, maybe even for the first time, stand up and take pride in their Christian identity. However, we also realize that with those moments during various retreats and conferences comes the responsibility to incorporate them in every second of our lives. We are then able to “go out onto the streets and into public places” proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ as Pope John Paul the Great asked us to do. We live our faith each day, unwilling to set it aside no matter how difficult and challenging our lives may be.
For most of us, life is not an easy road. Challenges, difficulties, and tears are a guarantee. Yes, there are many joys and plenty to be thankful for, but amidst it all, life is not easy. If life is not easy, surely we cannot say that faith is any easier. Though faith comes with many more joys and blessings, it comes with even more challenges and difficulties. After all, it was Christ himself who said that in order to be his disciples, we must pick up our crosses and follow him. However, in carrying that cross we understand more deeply that no matter how many times we grow weary, our Lord is always there to give us the grace to continue on.
When Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, or any one of their teammates walk out onto that field on Super Bowl Sunday, they know they are walking into a grueling three hours of disappointments, challenges, and joys. We too, in our faith, must be willing to walk out onto the field of faith each day, taking every day as an opportunity to live greater.
Both teams go into their championship game next Sunday not knowing who will come out victorious. As they step out in front of thousands of fans in the stadium, and the millions watching all over the world, each player cannot help but wonder, even for an instant, if they will be the ones to go home with the trophy.
In our faith, we experience something different. We already know who has been victorious. We walk out onto that field of faith each day knowing that it is Christ who has won. And no whether or not there are thousands in attendance, or a few in the pew, we can be confident that our Lord is calling us to share in His victory. This, I believe, is why John Paul II repeated the phrase “do not be afraid” so often. As St. Paul so ardently proclaims, with Christ, we have “won the race.” And through it all, we live faith’s super moments, each and every day.
Jon Leonetti is a Catholic radio host and speaker, providing keynote presentations and parish missions in churches, schools and conferences across the country. You can find more information on Jon at his website: www.jdleonetti.com