Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Super Bowl Sunday was anything but “super,” except for the last quarter. When commercials and Lady Gaga capture center stage at a football game, you know something is wrong. What happened to the Packers by the Atlanta Falcons looked like destiny for the Patriots. Many fans at a normal, Sunday game would have headed for the exit at the end of the third quarter, and the camera would have panned the stands to see those empty seats. However, the money that was spent on tickets, rooms and travel made the exit less inviting.
But, as my friend Yogi Berra would say, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” or “It ain't over till the fat lady sings” (an opera reference). Well, it wasn’t over! Tom Brady and cast played their roles with a sense of pride. They were going to make a game of it. You are always a winner when you play your part to the best of your ability in a game, and especially in life.
At the end of the game, another Yogi-ism could be applied to the Atlanta Falcons: “We made too many wrong mistakes.” In the end, a near miracle occurred. It wasn’t a Hail Mary pass that pulled victory out of the jaws of defeat, but certainly worthy of a visit to Lourdes, or more likely to Fatima in this 100th anniversary year of the shrine.
The toughest part of almost winning is facing the media after the game, who tend to ask the same question formulated in a hundred different ways. “What happened?!” There is graciousness that characterizes the professional in answering those questions, and this was true for the coach and players of the Atlanta Falcons. Another Yogi-ism applies, “It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”
Many religious figures (the Apostles, St. Theresa, St. Francis, St. Ignatius, St. Faustina, etc.) witnessed to Christ to the very end of their lives. They never saw the fruits of their works, but it didn’t matter; they were winners. Perhaps not by the world’s standards, but definitely by heaven’s standards. They never left the game early, and gave it their all to the very end. They were playing for the Redeemer’s team, the best owner in human history.
Another Yogi-ism might be a very appropriate spiritual guide for all of us: “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.” Christ is the guide. He is the way, the truth, and the light. If you want to get there, don’t leave early. Just follow the Lord Jesus’ direction and Love One Another.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the February 17, 2017 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.