Many of us Cleveland Browns fans rode an emotional roller coaster on Thursday, May 8th. For those who follow the National Football League closely, you are aware of two facts – the first is that the NFL draft was on May 8th – the second is that the Browns are the worst franchise in the league (Oakland maybe a close 2nd?). The Browns selected Johnny Manziel, an award-winning quarterback, with the 22nd pick in the draft, after passing on him with the 4th and 8th picks. Manziel will make for a big event on Sundays, but I think that a bigger Sunday event is Resurrection of Jesus Christ! Do we have our priorities in order?
I wish that the NFL did not play its games on Sunday. I like the NFL a lot – I have been to its games, and watched games on television. I suspect that the NFL started playing on Sunday because a lot of people were not occupied with other things – Sunday was the Lord’s Day! Now, many simply go to the games, and forget completely the reason why they have Sunday off. It’s not because of football, but because of God. If it were not the NFL, it would be something else occupying Sundays. Our Sunday activities should literally “re-create” us by setting us in a better place than before. Sports can sometimes do that, but they cannot take the place of time spent at Church, with the Scriptures, with the family, with a good book, or in nature. Also, unlike the NFL, these recreational alternatives do not require someone else to work, and do not contribute to unnecessary commerce on the Lord’s Day.
This may seem like a non-issue. But if many are seeking renewal in fandom, instead of being a member of the Body of Christ, then it is a big issue. Many Christians who profess belief in Christ do not keep Sunday as a day to encounter Christ. How will they be re-created then? How will they alleviate the crushing responsibilities of constant work? Will the pattern of overwork – escape from overwork – overwork really sustain them in a happy life? Can money or fleeting pleasure bring peace of mind?
We are the part of a great work of God which is unfolding in human history. God has given us the stewardship of creation to safeguard and develop to full potential. Science, reason, the environment, our professional skills, and our families are things that God has given us as a stewardship. As we develop these good gifts, we are also we also look forward to the Resurrection.
We know that the world as we know it will pass away. We know that we will be transformed into our most glorious potential, just as the body of Jesus Christ was glorified on Easter Sunday. There will be no more toil, no more death, no more grief, and no more sin. All matters will be made just. All people will be judged rightly by God. To observe the Lord’s Day on Easter, and every Sunday of the year, is to recognize the meaning of our present life, and the life to come.
This belief recreates us from Sunday to Sunday. Sunday Mass communicates this faith. An effective celebration of the Lord’s Day can provide the renewal from the week’s stresses that we seek. It can do what mere entertainment cannot do – it can put us in touch with the Living God. It can communicate all of God’s teachings and values to us. It can give us membership in the Communion of the Church. It can lift us to higher things. In short, it can provide everything that fandom provides at much less of a cost! May we rise up from the drudgeries and toils of this life to encounter something truly luminous and transformational: the Risen Christ!