Pope Francis is well known for his love of football (soccer). The feature picture of him in this story shows him holding a soccer ball in St Peter’s Square. I couldn’t resist using it with its yellow and black reference to the Richmond colours! In 2018 the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, produced the document, Giving the best of yourself: a document about the Christian perspective on sport and the human person. This document reflects on the best of the sporting endeavour. It reflects on what it means to work together as a team, to give of yourself and to collaborate with others. It picks up the themes of sacrifice, courage, joy and exaltation. Sport can promote teamwork over individualism and can promote and build up human communities. All of these things can prepare us for the way in which we are called to live our Christian faith and our Christian lives. Of course, there are dangers in sport too when competition takes over from respect for others; when the need to win leads to physical abuse of the human body; when we can deceive ourselves that cheating is justified.
As we come up to a weekend of football finals and of sporting events over the next couple of months we could stop and reflect on the beauty of sport and the enrichment that it brings to our lives whether we are spectators or participants. We might also wonder what is would be like if we could apply the same sort of reflection to the game of life. Pope Francis sums it up nicely for me in the following words.
Challenge yourself in the game of life like you are in the game of sports.
Challenge yourself in the quest for good, in both Church and society, without fear, with courage and enthusiasm.
Get involved with others and with God; don’t settle for a mediocre; ‘tie’,
give it your best, spend your life on what really matters and lasts forever.