Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sammy Sosa and Palm Sunday: Reflections on Opening Day and the End of Lent

"Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord."
The mob, praising Jesus as He triumphantly entered Jerusalem (Luke 19:38)

"Crucify him! Crucify him!"
The same mob, condemning the same Christ, several days later (Luke 23:21)

As we head into Holy Week, I am annually amazed by the juxtaposition of today's readings—how basically the same crowd both crowned Christ King and condemned Him to death all in less than a week's time. And while it may not happen quite THAT quickly in the world of sports, this field is filled with examples of men praised as heroes one day only to be cursed as villains the next. And in Chicago, never did this striking transformation take place as totally as with Champion of Faith's Sammy Sosa.

From 1998-2003, Sammy Sosa was the toast of the town averaging over 50 HR and 120 RBIs a season. In 1998, Sosa won the MVP award, was given the John Paul II Medal for "great sportsmanship that inspired our youth" and (along with Mark McGwire) was credited by many sportswriters with "saving baseball." But by 2004, he was derided as a selfish washed-up cheat, and the same people who proclaimed him a savior before, now for all practical purposes, booted his butt out of baseball. Today's blog is not meant to compare Sammy to Jesus, nor is it written to weigh Sosa's merits against his flaws (although to be fair Sammy's work with youth and his millions of dollars contributed to the Dominican Republic are both fact, while his alleged steroid use has never been proven) but Sosa's own comments, "I cannot make everybody happy. When Jesus Christ came here, He tried to make everyone happy and couldn't and He was perfect. Everyone criticized Him and He was the real Messiah. So if they criticized Him, what about me?" are telling.

Perhaps the moral of this story is that when Sosa was surrounded by positive Catholic role models, such as New York's (late) John Cardinal O'Connor or the Dominican's Cardinal Lopez-Rodriguez, he was a warrior on the field and a champion of faith off of it. Similarly Christ's human side seemed saddest when the times got tough and his friends denied, betrayed, left (or even fell asleep) when He needed them the most. Hopefully as Sosa at 38 (or 39 or 40, we never know the exact age of many Dominican players) attempts his risky comeback with the Rangers, he will be surrounded by true friends in the faith. As for ourselves, as we enter the most difficult time of Lent, let us cling to Christ, His Mother and the saints (as well as the prayers of Fighting Irish Thomas) as the devil attempts to tempt us to join in "the mob." It is easy to praise a hero when his miracles erase all our pain. But can we follow the Savior when His path seemingly leads only to death?

1 comment :

Pristinus Sapienter said...

I don't know, Tom . . .

I don't join 'the mob' with 'Crucify Him!' I CAN'T get Home with Him in heaven.

Praised be our Lord, Savior and King, Jesus Christ, Who understood my need for being so lowly a sinner that He gave His life for me. Blessed be His Name, and His Flesh-Food and Blood-Drink. For, He could not give us the Eucharist of Holy Thursday without going on to the Sacrifice of Good Friday.