For some people, this weekend is all about Football, given the Sunday night Super Bowl LVII. While I admit I don’t follow football or any particular team, I do watch the occasional game. And I will be watching the Super Bowl with some brother priests this weekend. I don’t really have a favorite but hope to see a good – safe – game.
Football was brought more to my attention a few weeks ago. During the Monday night game on January 2 between the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin experienced cardiac arrest after completing a tackle. I was not watching the game live, but I’ve seen the play since. The trauma of witnessing this on live TV in front of a huge crowd had a real effect on people. We know there are dangers to such high level, intensive play but no one expected this. It was amazing to see sports broadcasters go from providing commentary and calling games to bowing their heads in prayer and openly invoking God’s healing and blessing.
This event caused one young person I know to say, “I am honestly not sure I have ever experienced our nation speaking so openly about God and prayer in my lifetime, but this week it has been kind of amazing. This one horrible event has brought our entire nation together in prayer. All of my social media feeds this week have been full of posts and comments asking people for prayers for Damar, his teammates, his family, etc. News reporters are not only speaking openly about God and prayer and asking for prayers live on national TV, but they are actively bowing their heads and praying together live on TV. I am especially surprised this happened live on ESPN! I just felt like this was a great example for how much we need God in our lives each and every day.”
Fortunately, Damar Hamlin seems to be making a full recovery from his medical emergency. Thank God and his wonderful medical care. Prayers are answered! And while there may still be the occasional comment about the impact of that Bills-Bengals game on the playoff runs leading up to the Super Bowl, I suspect much of the open prayer and bowed heads will be more subdued and off screen during this weekend’s game. It nevertheless shows that at heart, many, even most of us want to believe, even if the lived implications of that belief are quite varied or weak most of the time. This speaks of that true inner desire written into every human heart for a relationship with God. As the Catechism states quite clearly, “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (CCC 27). This holy desire is not just written into Christian hearts, but every human heart!
The outpouring of support and prayer for Damar Hamlin, his family & team is amazing example of the power of national events to bring us collectively to our knees. Sadly, such events often tend to be tragic events – natural disasters, mass shootings, wars, and terrorist events. I’m old enough to remember the power of 9/11. I remember St Tom’s at Purdue suddenly being filled to overflowing. If only we could learn the lifelong lesson from such tragic events that we need God, we need prayer, we need each other, not just in the crisis, but every day.
Nothing Less than saints for the Holy Family of God.
Holy Family, Always at Prayer,Pray for us.
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries