Does the Bible say anything about sports? Although it would seem there is no direct mention, St Paul uses several imageries from sports in his writings. In his letter to Timothy he speaks about perseverance in faith and his own testimony, “I have fought to the end the good fight, finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7). In 1 Corinthians 9:25 he writes “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training”. The Vatican Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life have published a new document entitled “Giving the Best of Yourself – A document about the Christian perspective on sport and the human person”. The Church explains the reason for coming out with such a document as follows, “This document attempts to help the reader understand the relationship between giving our very best in sports and in living the Christian faith in every aspect of our lives. Indeed, “nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo” in the hearts of the followers of Christ. Sport is a human universal and has taken on a new level of importance in our time and so it too finds an echo in the heart of the people of God”.

It is no wonder that the Vatican has come out with such a document when Pope Francis is at the helm, who is known to be a great football fan. Also if we look back, John Bosco, popularly known as Don Bosco, the Father and Teacher of youth is a person known for using sports to reach out to the youth of his time. Salesians, the order started by Don Bosco, which focuses on young people continues to give importance to sports ministry.

Sports has a universal appeal to people of all generations and geographies. It is one medium which has the possibility of connecting with a large number of people and especially the youth. The bringing out of this document is a reflection of His Holiness, the Pope and Vatican’s interest in connecting with the young people of this generation.

SPORTS HAS A

UNIVERSAL APPEAL

TO PEOPLE OF ALL

GENERATIONS AND

GEOGRAPHIES

During my childhood in a remote rural parish, I used to be a frequent church goer for Mass on holidays, not because I was so pious and fervent, but because of the possibility to play with friends after Mass. The large church compound and the adjoining school stadium with its basketball, volleyball and badminton courts were a very good place for a large number of youth from that locality to gather, play, build friendships and fellowship. I also remember with fondness the bicycle expedition organized by the college students to a forest, some 25 miles away.

In the words of Pope Francis, ‘the Church is like a field hospital after battle, healing the wounds of the seriously injured’. Sports, like music, is an authentically human endeavour which has the supernatural ability to soothe one’s feelings, heal his/her wounds and bridge the divide between people and cultures. As such in her mission to bring the healing of Christ to the world around, the Church might have a natural ally in sports.

Is there anything special for Jesus Youth to take from this document? Pope Francis realises that sports could be an important instrument and tool to reach out to the youth of today. It may be time that Jesus Youth too takes steps so that the message of Christ Jesus may reach the hungry and thirsty in the fields and stadiums around the world.

Dr.Chackochan J Njavallil,Kerala,India
Dr.Chackochan J Njavallil,Kerala,India

Dr. Chackochan J Njavallil is an Associate Professor and Head of the Research and PG Department of Commerce at Marian College Kuttikkanam (Autonomous), a pioneer of Jesus Youth and the Chief Editor of Kairos and Kairos Global. He lives in Kajirappally, Kerala, India with his wife Dr.Daly and children Kochuthresi, Geovani, Deepanjali & Divyanjali