The incredible scenes at the Olympics these days – the joy, the support of the crowds, the adulation was so powerful, particularly of your are British. Working with boys the last few years I have seen with my own eyes how sport can ‘save them’ from lives on the streets in gangs. Coaching football I know how sport can give them meaning and discipline, so it is wonderful to see how Andy Murray, Jessica Ennis and the rest can be such positive role models. But even the roar of the crowd, the glamour of gold fades away. The love, so powerfully expressed in the stadium, is nothing compared to the patience of their families and friends as they embark on the discipline of training and single-mindedness of an elite athlete. There are striking scenes here too in Edinburgh as the Fringe Festival begins, we are being bombarded with flyers and posters – it can get a bit much. It feels like there is too much attention seeking – look at me! Come to my show! On the other hand there is great energy and creative talent – it is exciting. Careers will be launched, shows will be commissioned, and these shows and personalities will have a big impact on our culture and televisions over the next years. Seeing the pictures of comedians on the posters is revealing… we live in a golden age of comedy …. some of these people are starting to sell out football stadiums / becoming wealthy beyond their dreams as they sell their DVD box sets. Some of the comedy is no more than mockery, mean spirited, angry and cynical but some of the most popular stuff isn’t – its observational, balanced, self- deprecating, not nasty. However both the athletes and the comedians will find the adulation fades. So again what lasts?
In this week of great Olympians, the church has quietly celebrated three of its own Olympians. If you came to daily mass you know who I am talking about. Our own St Ignatius on Tuesday, the founder of the Jesuits, in whose ‘Spiritual Exercises’ many people, kings, queens, writers, poets, and normal people like you and me, have changed our lives for the better. On Wednesday we remembered St Alphonsus Liguori – the founder of the Redemptorists, who changed the hearts and minds of so many young slum dwellers all over the world and then on Saturday we remembered St Jean Vianney – patron of parish priests. To whom 20,000 people a year would visit and make their confession to. They would travel on pilgrimage from all over Europe, long before the days of Ryan Air….. They too are role models, but their legacy is much longer, more than gold it endures.
Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life (Todays Gospel)