It’s fourth and ten with a minute to go and you’re down by seven. The very next play, the next snap of the ball will determine if your year was a success or a failure. Yes, it is time for the Super Bowl. If only life were a game and a great big pay check awaited us despite the outcome of our next decision, win or lose.
After church today, Super Bowl 50 is expected to generate some 620 million dollars in revenue. And according to the American Gaming Association, people will gamble away 4.2 billion dollars on Super Bowl wagers. That’s a lot of dough for entertainment!
The events held in the coliseums offer us a fresh bouquet of life in the midst of our grey day to day struggles with health, wealth, happiness and purpose. And let us not forget the advertisements that tempt us and seduce us into wanting things we don’t need and can really live without!
We are all attracted to distraction. And as for me, even when I’m not being entertained by sports, my mind often leaves reality behind in pursuit of dream weaving. I find myself struggling throughout the day reflecting upon my woundedness rather than counting my blessings, or I use my vivid imagination entertaining myself in the land of “what ifs”.
All of our senses gather information from our surroundings and send that information to our brain for processing. This information can be vital for our survival and makes us want to seek out new information or makes us attracted to distraction and new surroundings. And it seems these days with our new electronic gadgets; we are allowing ourselves to be seduced more and more away from reality and away from God.
And then there is my prayer time when my need to center myself on God is interrupted with an attack of distraction. As long as my brain is healthy, it will continue to generate thoughts and ideas and it will seek out distractions. But I can dismiss them by turning my attention back to my prayer offering and making the sign of the cross from the top of my brain to the bottom of my heart to reapply my attention.
When most folks go to sleep they turn off the light and turn off the distractions. We need a time of quiet and peace. We need a time to turn off the world! To continually allow ourselves to be distracted is choosing to separate ourselves from God. Saint Gennadius of Constantinople wrote: “Do not forsake prayer, for just as the body becomes weak when it is deprived of food, so also the soul when it is deprived of prayer draws nigh to weakness and noetic death.” (St. Gennadius of Constantinople, The Golden Chain, 44)
Before the age of the Super Bowl, Facebook and the internet, Saint Paul’s warns the folks in a letter to Corinth: “And this I say for your own profit, not that I might cast a noose upon you, but for that which is seemly, and for constant waiting on the Lord without distraction.” [1 Cor. 7:35] And we hear from the words of our Lord: “Without Me you can’t do anything.”(John 15:5) I pray in this New Year we can all seek out the Kingdom of God firstly and be less attracted to distractions in our hot pursuit of the Kingdom of God.
Glory to Thee!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 2/7/16