Dear Pope Francis,
The World Junior Hockey Tournament is wrapping up in Toronto tonight with the Gold medal game between Canada and Russia
Watching the World Juniors is a holiday tradition in my family. Without fail, regardless of where we are and what’s going on, my dad and I are keeping tabs on how the tournament is going. This generally includes watching the opening game on Boxing Day (December 26) and the game on New Year’s Eve. As I have mentioned before, and perhaps it goes without saying, I cheer for the Canadians from beginning to end.
This year, I was surprised to find myself also cheering for Denmark. They were truly an underdog team in the tournament, having never won a game before they beat Switzerland in the preliminary round. They surprised everyone, perhaps even themselves, by making it to the medal round. As I watched them play Canada in the quarter-finals, I still couldn’t help but cheer them on. Everyone was saying how lopsided the match was, in Canada’s favour, but the Denmark team played hard anyway.
It’s easy to cheer for the top teams and players, those who dominate in their chosen sport, just like, in everyday life, it’s easy to cheer for the people that we like. When our friends are up for awards or coveted positions, we support them by cheering and praying for them. Of course we want them to succeed, they’re our friends.
But, just like in sports, there are underdogs in everyday life, the people who perhaps had a tough start in life, are a little rough around the edges, have some additional challenges to overcome, or simply grate on your nerves. I can think of several people who fit that description for me. But that doesn’t mean I can treat them any differently.
I may not admire these people, the way I admire the Denmark hockey team, but I still need to support the everyday underdogs as best as I can, whether that’s praying for them, helping them out when they need a hand, or simply accepting them as they are. I know from personal experience, this is easier said than done. I struggle a lot when I have to work with people that I may not get along with. It is in those moments, I strive to remember that Jesus commands us to love the unloved, loving our neighbour as ourselves. So I will root for these everyday underdogs, I will pray for patience and understanding when working with people that I may not enjoy working with, because at the end of the day, I want to know that I tried my best to be Christ in the world.
Gearing up for the gold medal game,