The defending World Champ, 15-1 Green Bay Packers took quite a beating in the Divisional Playoff game last night. We were out-passed, out-scored, out-defended – utterly defeated; about the only thing that the New York Giants didn’t out-do us on was making critical blunders. The numerous dropped passes and fumbles combined with that “Worst Defense in the NFL” to bring about a smashingly horrible home loss and a premature end to our post-season hopes. All of us die-hard Packers fans are asking one question: “WHY?” Well, all of us death-but-not-sin Catholics (also die-hard Packers fans), have the answer: “HUMILITY – THE WILL OF GOD!”
When looked at through the eyes of faith, the Green Bay Packers loss is the perfect “catechetical teachable-moment.” So what’s the take home message from last night’s disappointment? Well, I find several points upon which to expound.
- “Therefore whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).” This verse and the stats say it all. A 15-1 regular season and then…. Yes, we may have gone 15-1, only losing one game all season long, but that does not make us invincible. Even more important than winning the first game is winning the last game. Remember it is our final score upon which our eternity will depend. Recall too, the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians: “Run as to win…, for I fear that, having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 24b & 27b).” We may go so far as to convert the whole world and bring all peoples to the Beatific Vision, yet even this would make no guarantees of our final victory. If we fail to win the final victory over the world, the flesh and the devil, we may find ourselves being rejected at the Pearly Gates. Ouch, not a pleasant thought. It is kind of like …. going undefeated at home all season and then losing the first playoff game – at home.
- “Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith (1 Peter 5:8-9a).” Remember, your opponent is formidable and you are not going to pull off a win sleep-walking. It is the same with our faith. We are the Church Militant. We are at war with the devil and his forces and if we live our faith by just going through the motions, our chances of defeating him are just as great as that of a linebacker trying to tackle a receiver who is 20 yards away.
- DEFENSE REALLY MATTERS. As I previously mentioned, a deciding factor in our Green Bay Packers’ loss was inexplicably bad defense. Alright, they have been bad all season and usually it has not made too much of a difference because all Aaron Rodgers and the offense have had to do was come back on to the field, matched points with the opposing team and seal the victory. It works well, given that Aaron Rodgers and company are in sync. However, when they aren’t all exactly on the same page (refer back to last night if in need of an example), needless to say we have a disastrous defensive defeat on our hands. Now let us apply this example to our faith life. We may have a record shattering offense, but if the devil can pick apart our defense – especially when it is consistently poor – it will eventually catch up with us. One isolated instance of bad defense – that’s what the Sacrament of Confession is for. Consistently bad defense – the Sacrament of Confession is still necessary along with more firm contrition, penance and amendment.
Even if you lose the game, never lose your character. Character is the most defining aspect of the Green Bay Packers. Look at them now – the Super Bowl XLV Champions squelched in the first Playoff game, at home, by a team which they had beat in the regular season. Yet despite the loss, they are not wishing ill on the New York Giants: no, they are taking responsibility for their loss. This slice of humble pie is very difficult to swallow and they are doing an admirable job – even without the help of Gatorade, for the most part. Aaron Rodgers, in the press conference after the game, said that we “were at the top of the mountain” and that it is a hard feeling being all of a sudden back at the bottom. Well you guys are doing a laudable job, down there at the bottom, coping with your defeat. Particularly as this defeat follows the tragic death of Michael Philbin, son of your Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin. We pray for the repose of his soul and thank you for showing us the true character of champions. God bless you and your climb back to the top. !Go Pack Go! (and maybe you’ll get that 19-0 season in 2012 – you certainly deserve it).