Taking one for the team!
This is my body, which is given for you – Lk 22:19
As athletes, the concept of sacrificing one’s body for the good of the team, the game and the fans is not new. Everyone is expected to “take one for the team!” On the pitch, soccer players live this in a variety of ways. Soccer is sport that requires great endurance, strong bursts of speed and multiple changes of direction. The game is also very physical – soccer is a contact sport – so players must possess strength. There is shoving, pushing, pulling, strong tackles, slide tackles and no padding to protect the player. Soccer requires constant sacrifice.
These words of Jesus stated at the last supper hold profound and deep meaning on multiple levels. First, there is the very straight forward meaning, taken by most Christians, of Jesus sacrificing Himself on the cross for sinners. We say sacrificed himself because, as the Son of God, He clearly could have changed the outcome but that was not God’s purpose. He offered Himself on the cross to save all sinners and as a demonstration to us of how we should offer ourselves for the good of others. There is also the literal, and more profound, meaning taken in the context of the Last Supper. Catholic Chrisitans understand this to be the point at which Jesus transformed the bread and wine into His body and blood. Notice that the words state “this is my body” as opposed to “this represents” or “this is kinda like” my body. He then goes on to tell the apostles to “do this in memory of me.” He calls them to action! As Catholics, we do this every Sunday at mass in memory of Him when we celebrate the eucharist. At the same time, Jesus calls us to “do this in memory” of Him when we sacrifice ourselves for others.
Athletes are expected to offer up their bodies for their team and the fans for the good of the game. As Catholic Athletes For Christ state “when an athlete commits to a sport they make this pledge to their teammates, coaches and fans. An athlete offers his or her body and all that dwells within–mind, spirit and will–in sacrifice to better someone and something beyond themselves.” Jesus was the ulimate athelete. He understood that it’s all about service and sacrifice to others. We are called to do the same – serve and sacrifice for others. So train hard and play hard and recognize that, in doing so, you are giving glory to God by imitating the Son!