A friend and I were out not long ago to catch up over some wings and, as is always the case, we got to talking about sports.
This time, however, we weren’t discussing recent trades or exciting playoff matchups. We weren’t even quizzing each other on various sports trivia, which we typically do.
No, we were sharing thoughts about some recent human interest stories featuring athletes and their benevolent actions with fans.
A local professional hockey player had recently surprised some kids by hopping out of his vehicle after they had asked their dad to honk the horn as they passed him on the road. As if meeting one of their hockey idols wasn’t enough, the player proceeded to sign some sticks from his trunk and give them to the awed youngsters.
More still, the player insisted on bringing them and their father to the team’s arena, where they posed for pictures and he gave them even more team paraphernalia.
In an unrelated story, one of the player’s teammates had shocked a group of young hockey players with developmental disabilities by attending their season-end banquet – despite playing a game at the same time as the team’s festivities were being held.
After scoring the winning goal in overtime, the player hurried through post-game interviews and other commitments, showered and hustled over to the team’s banquet at a hotel elsewhere in the city.
While he could have celebrated his team’s dramatic victory in far more glorious style and with far more recognizable company, it was imperative for him and his wife that they attend this banquet. After all, for the last five years, he has proudly served as honorary captain for this team of kids with special needs and he wasn’t going to let them down.
The last example my friend and I marveled over detailed how a professional football player had desperately posted a request on his social media pages for a ride to his team’s stadium – located hours away from the airport where he had landed.
The player, needing to attend team training activities, had learned his connecting flight was delayed and no rental cars were available to transport him. After a pair of brothers generously answered the plea and made the four-hour drive in the middle of the night, the player not only covered gas expenses, but also insisted they come into the stadium for a tour, autographs and pictures with famous team memorabilia.
Reviewing these stories, my friend and I couldn’t help but comment on the rare media exposure of positive news.
While we grow so accustomed in society to learning about celebrities caught in scandal and watch news broadcasts fill with depressing negativity centered on violence, drugs and selfishness, it is so refreshing to have uplifting news garner so much attention.
Just as coverage of these stories illustrates, the practice of Jesus’ Gospel should be highlighted much more, in order that more people can be encouraged to live His Golden Rule, ensuring everyone is treated with love, dignity and respect.
My friend and I concluded today’s society seems to need these seeds of joy planted and promoted far more often than they generally are.
Not only that, when observing today’s world, one could suggest we crave the Lord’s Good News, as if we cannot survive without it.
In his teachings, St. Augustine wrote and preached about humanity’s quest for God, a search for complete meaning and true happiness in life.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, a summary of the Church’s beliefs and teachings, takes that concept one step further, identifying our desire for God as being written in our hearts, since we are made by God and for Him. (CCC # 27)
As God is the source of ultimate good and He never stops drawing us near to Him, only in God can we find the truth and happiness we constantly yearn for in our lives.
Put another way, it’s as if we have been wired like a computer, having a DNA chip of goodness and happiness planted within us.
As creations of God in His image, we are programmed for joy, generosity, righteousness and love.
Think about it. When you were young, what did you want to be when you were older?
Many children name careers like doctor or astronaut, firefighter or ballerina. No matter the choice, they all tend to be positive and productive, healthy for one’s self and society.
It’s not by accident that no right-thinking person dreams of becoming a drug dealer, bank robber or murderer, because their heart fundamentally desires goodness, just as God designed.
Perhaps along life’s road, some people veer from God’s path, similar to a computer malfunctioning and needing wiring adjustment.
With this in mind, may we always model and share Jesus’ Good News, encouraging those around us to continue seeking the true desires of their heart so that we may all discover complete happiness and fulfillment.