I was watching Brazil battle Belgium in the quarterfinals of the World Cup and was taken by the expression on the face of Renato Augosto’s as he scored Brazil’s first goal, pulling them back into the now 2-1 game. The intensity as he clasped the national team logo on his jersey and pointed to the raucous Brazilian fans in the stands was priceless. That goal mattered – it gave them hope. Sadly, it did not muster another goal and Belgium went on to defeat the 5-time World Cup champions. Even in defeat, the implications for the players and the fans of this and so many other plays, practices, wins and losses seem epic. When in reality, it is just a game. Try telling that to the fans and players as they are eliminated from World Cup contention.
It is amazing what lengths people are willing to take for what they believe matters. Important or not in the eyes of others, if it matters to me, I will go to impressive lengths for whatever “it” is. It stands to reason then, that the corollary is also true: I am not likely to do much for what doesn’t seem to matter to me, no matter how much it matters to you or everyone else. While it may seem as if you are reading a column from Fr. Obvious, I believe that we don’t speak enough about what matters, and more importantly, why it matters.
I recently read some research about disaffiliated young adult Catholics (Going, Going, Gone – St. Mary’s Press) and of all of the reported reasons that young people offer for leaving the Church, it seemed clear that the appreciation of a relationship with Christ in the Church just didn’t matter in their lives. I am not saying that as a negative judgement, but rather as a call to engagement. The more we simply yell louder at young people that JESUS REALLY MATTERS, the more we are missing the real call to personally witness how Jesus matters. The problem for many of us however, is that is easier said than done.
Fans of Brazil’s World Cup team can give ample witness to how much their team matters, and it’s only a game. Some might suggest that is an unfair comparison. But while we debate the merits of my analogical skills, people who matter are drifting from the Church, and from soccer as well (youth sports team play is down 7% over the last 8 years in the US). Games come and go over the generations – does it really matter? Jesus came once and for all – I can’t imagine my life without Him. I wonder if anyone really notices my witness of how much He matters to me?
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