Blessed Virgin Mary’s Birthday

Cam Newton Panthers

Leave it to our Lady to give us a birthday present on her birthday.  Namely football.  Panthers-Broncos re-match tonight!

Let’s ask ourselves this question.  At Holy Mass today we read a lengthy genealogy.  From Abraham to Amminadab to Shealtiel to Matthan, with a lot of tongue-twisting ancient Hebrew names in between.  What does this long list of obscure names have to do with the meaning of life?

A great deal, in fact.  But first, this question:  Does life have meaning?  What makes us think that life has meaning?  Maybe there really is no more to it than the fleeting thrill of seeing Cam Newton rush for a 20-yard carry and possibly avenge the ugly Superbowl, this very night?

bl-virg-detailNo.  Football is fun.  But meaningful?  Not exactly.  A new iPhone can be fun, I guess. NASCAR can be fun.  But enough to make life worth living?  Hardly.

But:  What about this?  What about the idea that all things have been arranged by a mind infinitely greater and more beautiful than our own, Who has revealed His sublime purpose by becoming a man Himself?  What about a woman giving birth to a son, Who is God, the One Who made and Who governs everything, and Who spread out His arms to endure the Roman death penalty, in order to show us that all of this is for love?

All of it, everything–the sun, the moon, the stars, the rivers, the seas, the mountains and hills, time, history, birth:  all an act of divine love.

The Virgin Mary perceived; the Virgin Mary said Yes to; the Virgin Mary co-operated in every way with this:  We find meaning in life by union with Jesus Christ.

The Blessed Mother’s union with Christ involved her body and her soul.  So, by His grace, does ours.  Her union with Christ consumed her entirely, and yet brought out her true self like nothing else could.  So, by His grace, does ours.

She said Yes to the Incarnation, gave herself entirely to it, lost herself completely in it, and became herself by: giving birth to, nursing, helping, feeding, teaching, learning from, following, and suffering with God.

Yes.  We say yes, too.  Yes, we believe that Christ is God, and His cross means that life is worth living.

Two Black Quarterbacks Ago…

Doug Williams Sports IllustratedIn thirteen days, Cam Newton will start at quarterback against the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.

But it won’t be the first time the Broncos have squared-off against a team with a black quarterback.

Two years ago, the Broncos faced Russell Wilson.  But that wasn’t the first time, either.

Long-time readers remember that, two winters ago, I had the opportunity to make a pilgrimage along the California Mission Trail.

We started in San Diego, of course, in Mission Valley, at the basilica of San Diego de Alcalá.  That particular shrine of holy martyrs lies less than a mile away from Qualcomm Stadium.

But that wasn’t your humble servant’s first trip to Mission Valley.

Qualcomm Stadium used to be known as Jack Murphy Stadium.  And on January 31, 1988, the Broncos got trounced there, in Super Bowl XXII.  By Doug Williams and the Washington Redskins.

Some of us remember that night as if it were yesterday.  Some of us even remember the balmy air in Mission Valley that night.  Your unworthy  servant, thanks to Divine Providence–and the fact that my dad, though not rich himself, associated with some seriously rich people, who had Super Bowl tickets to give away to their friends’ sons–my brother and I saw Doug Williams destroy the Broncos with our own eyes.

In Super Bowl XXII, a black quarterback led the winning team for the first time ever.  Two Super Bowls ago, it happened a second time.*   The Broncos have been on the losing end both times.

Cam #3?

 

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  • Donovan McNabb had a chance to be #2 in 2005.  But the Eagles lost Super Bowl XXXIX to the Patriots.

Rock in Thin Air

Cam Newton Panthers

A strong city have we,” with “houses built on solid rock.”

What rock can there be but God? Something so simple and fundamental—and yet so easy to get distracted away from. Which is why we so desperately need our Lady in front of our spiritual eyes at all times.

transporter room star trekShe came of age, reached womanhood, and the choice appeared before her with crystal clarity: Everything for God; everything invested 100% in His holy Word; everything staked on His faithfulness to a beautiful plan we can’t see. Or: hopelessness, the slow tragic arc towards death, dissipation in a thousand compromises with shallowness and selfishness.

These are the real options. Everything for the invisible Rock of infinite love, running towards Judgment Day with nothing but eagerness to see Jesus. Or: comfort right now, followed by boredom tomorrow, confusion eventually, and ultimate desperation.

What rock can there be but God? What else is good? I would love to see my new bandwagon favorite Carolina Panthers march to Seattle in January, beat the evil Seahawks, and go the Super Bowl. I would love it. It could happen. But even if it does—is there any imaginable way in which Cam Newton can be the rock of my life? Is there any imaginable way in which the ephemera of this world can make me happy, really, for good?

No. God is the only rock. His testimony of love is the only foundation for any lasting city.

If we stand on this holy Rock of faith, like our Lady; if we stand with both feet squarely placed on the rock of the divine Word; if every pound of our weight, every ounce—everything; if all of me stands on the Rock of God, like our Lady stood, as if floating in the air—when the angel said, ‘the Holy Spirit will do this,’ and she said Yes; if we stand like her on the thin air of staking everything on the faithfulness of God, than you know what we can do?

Look each other in the eye. Look each other in the eye and see the great mystery: This person right here is my fellow citizen of Jerusalem. This person right here has just arrived—has just been beamed to this exact location by God Himself. No Amazon delivery drone required. God Himself has beamed us all together right here, right now, for a moment of love that will never die.

Our blessed Mother looked the Archangel in the eye, so to speak—since angels don’t ‘have’ eyes, but are eyes—she looked and saw the same reality that we can look and see, when we stand squarely on the thin air of God: The choice. Turn away, and crumble, little by little. Or say Yes to love, jump out, and fly like an eagle on the wind.

annunciation