Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Olympic Games
After 7 years of preparation the 2012 Olympic Games opened in London on Friday evening watched by a global TV. audience numbered in billions.
Over the next 16 days 10,500 athletes from all over the world, including 66 from Ireland, will participate in the world’s premier sporting festival.
Since they were revived in 1896 the motto of the Olympics has been “Faster, Higher, Stronger”.
Anyone who loves sport knows it is an art form and can teach us much about life. Most sports call for skill, discipline, imagination, creativity and are clearly vehicles of self-expression. Just think of these magical moments in swimming, boxing, cycling, basketball, football, rugby, tennis and the rest where humanity shines at its most beautiful and best. There will be many moments like these on display at the 2012 Games this summer.
Sport enables us to discover much about ourselves from reflection on our performances and the processes we go through when training. The love of sport discloses the spirituality of sport. As they train, and push themselves beyond their comfort zone on through that pain barrier, athletes realise they are in control of the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual dimensions of their lives.
Without self-control, sport, or life in general, ends in disaster. For the Physical, there is temperance; for Intellectual, prudence; for the Emotional, fortitude; and for the Spiritual, justice. Tasting success or learning from failure generates joy for everyone who accepts that God is an appreciative spectator of their life.
Sport imitates life’s vital processes. Many sports teach the importance of making fast decisions in complicated situations. Loss of temper is mostly costly. Concentration and attention are rewarded. Underestimating the opposition is often disastrous. Hard work and sustained commitment are rewarded.  Pushing on through pain, serving a team, facing defeat with dignity and never giving up are essential for success.
Experienced coaches who have faith remind those they train that they are more than what they do. They are children of God. Otherwise, once they  retire they can all too easily see themselves as without purpose and so become depressed. Through sport we may see humanity at its most sublime.
Sport seems to satisfy our yearning for spiritual communion between people from every part of our Earth.
 For those who love it,
Sport is JOY.
The simple Basic Things
O God,
Give me all the simple basic things
Which will make me a useful person in this world.
Help me to be;
So that people will be able to depend on me;
So that nothing I do may be less than my best;
So that I may not waste the time of others;
So that I may never let people down;
So that I may always think how my actions may affect others.
Help me to live in the constant awareness
Of your love for me, Amen.

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Goodness and Sacrifice
On the 11th March 2011 a dreadful earthquake and tsunami struck Japan killing many people and destroying a vast amount of property. In the editorial of the July/August edition of the ‘Far East’ there is this extract from a letter written by a policeman to a friend in Vietnam:
“There was one really moving incident involving a little Japanese boy: he taught an adult like me a lesson on how to behave like a human being. I had been sent to a little grammar school to help a charity organisation distribute food to the refugees. It was a long line that snaked this way and that, and I saw a little boy around nine years old. He was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of shorts. It was getting very cold and the boy was at the very end of the line. I was worried that by the time his turn came there would not be any food left. So I spoke to him. He said he was at school when the earthquake happened. His father was working nearby and was driving to the school. The boy was on the third floor balcony when he saw the tsunami sweep his father away.
I asked him about his mother. He said his house is right by the beach and that his mother and little sister probably did not make it. He turned his head and wiped his tears when I asked about his relatives. The boy was shivering so I took off my police jacket and put it on him. That’s when my bag of food ration fell out. I picked it up and gave it to him. ‘when it comes to your turn, they might run out of food so here’s my portion, I already ate. Why don't you eat it?’ The boy took my food and bowed. I thought he would eat it right away, but he did not. Instead he went up to where the line ended and put it where all the food was waiting to be distributed.
I was shocked. I asked him why he had not eaten the food and had instead added it to the food pile. He answered, ‘Because I see a lot more people hungrier than I am. If I put it there, then they will distribute the food equally’. When I heard that I turned away so that people would not see me cry.
A society that can produce a nine-year-old who understands the concept of sacrifice for the greater good, must be a great society, a great people."