Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe… This is the title of today’s feast. If I could have voiced an opinion during the discussion which led to this designation, I would have suggested that Jesus might prefer to be acknowledged as a sports fan. I admit that this opinion is influenced by my fresh memories of the Chicago Cubs’ World Series victory. However, I think that everyone who has supported a team through thick and thin can appreciate my logic. We fans cheer with all of our hearts when the game goes well. Though we moan through bad plays and rub our heads through questionable strategy or execution, we remain behind the team or the athlete whom we love. In my experience, no one has done this better than Cub Fans -except Jesus.
Everything Jesus said and did indicates that he is far more loyal and dedicated than even the best of fandom. When he walked among us, Jesus knew the stats on his home team and on those he met along the way. His mother was just a teen and his dad didn’t quite know how to handle his unexpected arrival. Still, Jesus entrusted himself to Mary and Joseph with absolute faith that they would perform well when the chips were down. When he was twelve years old, Jesus tested his parents’ skills when he lingered at the temple to scout out the priests and teachers. These men seemed to think they knew the score regarding God. Jesus’ parents found him only after he stayed long enough to convince these experts that he knew a thing or two about God’s game plan as well. As a young man, Jesus attended the wedding reception of a young couple who ran out of wine. Though he disagreed with his mother’s proposed play, Jesus did as she asked and solved the couple’s problem. When Jesus left his home in Nazareth, he remained attuned to the local talent wherever he was. He saw hidden abilities in his disciples which others had ignored season after season. In the end, Jesus assembled a team of twelve and a following of thousands of minor leaguers. Each one played his or her position in unexpectedly amazing ways which only Jesus could have anticipated. Even when they erred, Jesus used the talents of others to further illustrate God’s love, forgiveness, mercy and compassion.
You know, there was no off-season for Jesus. He cheered for every player whether he or she was training, in preseason or in the midst of the biggest game of the year. Unlike us, Jesus cheered for the other teams’ players as well. He simply couldn’t resist the best efforts of anyone. Even when Jesus hanged dying on the cross, he cheered on the man beside him. When this man made a pitch for his place in Paradise, Jesus responded with his promise that they would both experience victory in heaven very soon.
Even if you’re growing weary of my sports metaphor, please bear with me for another inning. If you’re not a Cub Fan, insert the name of your favorite team into the following commentary. Change the championship if your sport of choice isn’t baseball. Now imagine that your team has waited 108 years for this win. The Chicago Cubs’ World Series Victory literally made sports history. Pure devotion carried me through the bottom of the tenth of Game 7. I admit that I couldn’t cheer because I was in tearful speechless awe after that final tag at first base. While those lovable Cubs jumped for joy, I whispered, “This is what heaven is like.” When the Cubs basked in the glory of victory, I basked in being a part of the Cubs Family and I embraced every minute of it!
You and I and our entire human family have been through things far worse than an uphill battle through a 1-3 standing. The terrible fighting which continues in the Middle East echoes the suffering of Jesus’ own people. Though they don’t make the news, similar wars rage between drug lords, separatists and more in South America, Africa and our own neighborhoods. The deplorable tone which too often dominates the news mimics the worst of what occurs among us when we give in to hatred and mistrust. Human suffering isn’t new to our human family at large and to each one of us. It’s no wonder that I so thoroughly enjoyed reveling with the Cubs. It felt good to belong and to be loved, to appreciate the efforts of others and to have my efforts appreciated. It felt very good!
This is the twenty-fifth reflection I’ve written for the Feast of Christ the King and it has been the most difficult. Though Jesus deserves more accolades than any king, I cannot simply call him “king” when he’s been so much more to me. Jesus is my greatest fan. Jesus is your greatest fan, too. He always has been and always will be. Even when no one else is around to celebrate our big wins, Jesus is with us to enjoy the ride. The best part is that Jesus stays with us through the losses, too. Though you may not see him through the tears, Jesus is there. Christ the King? Sure. Christ the Fan? Absolutely!
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