Super Bowl Sunday approaches and the collective eyes of a relatively large chunk of the world will watch 100 men play a fantastically hard-fought, inherently violent, powerful game. So many famous and powerful people will be in attendance or watching. Besides the FIFA World Cup Final which only happens every four years, the Super Bowl is regularly the most watched sports event in the world. One estimate is that over 167 million people will watch this year. I will be one of them.
I can’t even begin to guess at the amount of money this single game moves around. Never mind the salaries of the players and coaches, small potatoes. The average cost of a 30 second commercial spot is about $6.5 million. To produce the 13 minute halftime show, costs the NFL about $13 million. It’s estimated that the economic impact on LA for hosting the big game will be between $234 and $477 million. Bookies report approximately 7.61 billion dollars will be wagered on this single game.
The Super Bowl really is the biggest, most watched (outside the World Cup final), most financially impactful television sporting event. We will witness the indescribable joy of victory and the sadness of failing so close the ultimate football goal.
The irony of this Sunday’s gospel falling on Super Bowl Sunday is almost too much to bear.
On Sunday morning we will hear Jesus preach the Beatitudes. In Luke’s version we get four Beatitudes and four Woe statements. Jesus says to his disciples and all who will listen that it is the poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the persecuted who are blessed. He makes a stern waring to those who are wealthy, well fed, happy, and praised.
In other words, woe to the winner of the Super Bowl.
What is Jesus talking about? He is talking upside down, right?
The Beatitudes remind us that what the world values is temporary and short lived. Success and comfort by worldly standards will fade away. Are they bad? Not necessarily, but it will be gone and forgotten (and sooner than we can imagine).
The problem is when we settle for little satisfactions instead of forever joys. The issue is when temporary entertainments get in the way of us seeking out what our hearts really desires. When we let what the world calls “the best” take the place of the kind of communion with God that we really need, that is when worldly things become an obstacle to forever things.
For all its prestige, money, and power, the Super Bowl will come and go and mean almost nothing very soon. I once heard a retired NFL player say that once you win the Super Bowl you remember that moment and will always be a Super Bowl winner for the rest of your life. But that’s just it – for the rest of your life. Our lives will end and what will remain will be the only things that do remain after we pass – our souls and our relationship with God.
Watch the Super Bowl and enjoy it, by all means. I will. But go to Mass on Sunday morning and remember that what you do at Mass will still matter in 1000 years and this weekend’s big game won’t.
LIVE IT: Make a bet this weekend that is 100% guaranteed to pay out. Go to Mass. Offer Jesus Christ the best of your life (and the worst too, he wants it all). Ask God to give you a desire for that which will last for eternity.