To break a tie

JOHN GALLAGHER
SPORTS EDITOR

Two minutes left, tie game. The athletes come out of a timeout, and take the field of play, and in that moment not a single soul in the stands would rather find itself anywhere else in the world. They’re invested. They’ve been witnesses to the struggle between their team and the other, and the fruits of said conflict are shortly to be unveiled, victoriously or otherwise.

Then, the moment. Your entrance fee validates itself in a single moment , your sideline seat, no matter the price, is justified, although more often than not at this point there is not a chance in the world that you’re sitting.

The goal. The three-pointer. The cross-court winner. The perfect dive. The successful try. The course PR. The set, then the kill. The tie is broken, in your favor, in your team’s favor but at this point you are more than a spectator. You’ve figuratively left the sidelines and now, jersey or not, you’ve become a member of the team, a sharer in the victory.

Two minutes left, tie game. The final nail is driven through the flesh of your God as His cross is lifted high, and in that moment not a single remaining soul in the crowd would rather find itself anywhere else in the world. They’re invested. They’ve found themselves witnesses to the struggle between Christ and the world, and the fruits of said conflict are shortly to be unveiled, victorious.

Then, the moment. Your share in the experience validates itself in a single moment; the price of your seat is negligible, given that it was already purchased by the man-God upon whom you gaze. There is not a chance in the world that you’re sitting.

Salvation. Free will. Sin simplified, and perfection crucified. Willingness.

The kill. The tie is broken, in your favor, in your team’s favor but at this point you’re more than a spectator. You never again will be. You’re a member of the team, and a sharer in the victory.

The dichotomy between a packed Madison Square Garden and a shamefully empty 9 a.m. Sunday Mass begs an explanation. The discrepancy is founded upon a lack of understanding as to that which actually constitutes the concept of victory.

Because with two minutes left, the score was lopsided when Christ entered the contest. Spectators were fleeing their seats, fearful not for their team but for their very lives. And suddenly, in their favor swung the balance of eternity, at the full price of the life of one Messiah.

The sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest highlights package of the greatest victory ever to be recounted. And we somehow find the audacity to pack the stands with witnesses to mortal success, while divine victory is celebrated by less and less a crowd.

Attendance to Mass is in a period of unprecedented decline. That decline ceases when, and not before, prospective believers are made to understand the importance of what takes place. Because the first and last time Christ offered Himself fully for humanity, humanity fled the field, until next to no one was left to witness the culmination of all of salvation history.

It is therefore the charged duty of those in attendance to the sacrifice of the Mass to enlighten those who today run from the cross as to the amazing struggle they weekly fail to encounter.

Two minutes left, tie game. Get yourself to a pew. You don’t want to miss this one.

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