Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
With all due respect to baseball, the national pastime, the most anticipated opening of any sports season is the first Sunday of football. And, we live in the state that spawned the Green Bay Packers. Many Wisconsinites religiously declare their allegiance to the Pack and work their Sunday schedules around game-time. However, something is definitely different this season. There is the absence of what is traditionally referred to as the sixth man in basketball.
The sixth man represents the people in the stands, the fans, who cheer the team on to victory and voice their displeasure at the referees’ poor calls. This sixth man often inspires and lifts the spirits of the home team. I am sure many of us can recall a game that was literally won through the inspiration and motivation provided by the crowd. Oh, for sure, technology will throw in some crowd noises with a few shouts and boos appropriately placed. It will be similar to laugh-tracks that TV shows put into pre-recorded sitcoms. The diehard fans will deal with it because, of course, they can view their sport under any condition.
Watching the game this Sunday brought back memories of scrimmages that high schools and colleges played outside of the normal schedule. These games were closed to the public and had all the trappings of a real game, but it was more of a teaching device than an actual contest. Granted, we were not being paid millions of dollars to compete. But, then again, there is always the love for the game that is a part of all amateurs’ enthusiasm. It will be interesting to note how many people will come back with the same enthusiasm that built the NFL throughout the years. It remains to be seen.
This pandemic has challenged us to prioritize our lives to determine what is truly important. I have often stated that what made the “Greatest Generation” the greatest is how these men and women established their priorities. To put it simply, it was God, family and country.
We are blessed to understand that everything we have comes from God. How do we demonstrate our thanksgiving and return the blessings He has bestowed on us? Worship on Sunday is a good start. Our families have helped to define and support us through their love. Hopefully, we have rediscovered the importance of these relationships and are making sure that we are present at significant family gatherings.
We live in a country that has enshrined freedom. Our freedoms are established under law, to protect them and us. Human frailties have at times sidetracked us from addressing critical issues and, of course, much work still needs to be accomplished. However, people will risk their lives to come to this country, and we are blessed to have men and women will who defend our country’s existence and the right to enjoy our freedoms, apart from crime and violent intimidation. We can do our part by making sure we are informed about candidates and exercising our right to vote.
The very first freedom that our founders expressed in the Bill of Rights was the freedom of religion. Some will argue, and I agree, that this is the reason our country was founded: to ensure the ability to freely practice one’s faith. Perhaps, the wisdom of the founders was that they knew listening to God and His Word would hold us together through any challenge and remind us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the September 15, 2020, "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.