In modern society we seem to have statistics for just about everything. As I looked for details about this event, I was amazed when I came across a website that specializes in detailing “death at the ballpark”. According to this website, over 800 game-related fatalities have occurred at ballparks between 1862 and 2007. Wow!
You can read it for yourself here: http://deathattheballpark.com/overview.html
In my younger years I spent a great deal of time at the local community ballpark. I played the game competitively from the age of seven all the way through college. I have coached on a number of occasions, and I have umpired more games than I can recall. Through these experiences I saw a lot of injuries: batters getting hit by pitches, line drives hitting fielders, foul balls striking spectators, collisions between players, players getting spiked by another player sliding hard into the base, outfielders running into the fence trying to catch a ball that would potentially be a home run, brawls on the field after someone gets hit by a pitch, and finally, even brawls among spectators after the alcohol had flowed for too long of a time. I saw a lot of injuries, but never a fatality.
Reading the account of this lightning strike has been a gentle reminder to me of the fragile nature of life. Every breath we take and every beat of our heart is truly a gift from almighty God. Thus, I pose the question, “Is this a gift we too often take for granted?” Based upon the typical routines of our day-to-day lives, do we experience a sense of gratitude for the gift of God’s love?
Listening to the words of Pope Francis during the World Youth Day celebrations, and watching his actions, has been thought-provoking on a number of levels. The secular media has obviously been enamored with some of the pope’s comments during the plane ride back from Rio, and a few reporters have tried to make his statements say what they want it to say. However, capturing the overall message that Pope Francis tried to communicate during this historic gathering in Rio seems to be elusive both for some on the right and the left. Church leaders like Cardinal Dolan have attempted to clarify a number of issues that were raised during the impromptu plane interview, but it leaves me wondering how well the majority of us are grasping the pope’s message. Are each of us ready to intentionally move from our “bullet-proof bubble” out into the communities in which we live? To put it bluntly, are we willing to get out of the pews and seriously put our faith into action?
Statistics may reveal that it is safer to be in a church than it is to be at a ballpark. The reality of the matter is that we don’t enter into the church building to simply be safe. We enter the church building to encounter the living Christ in our worship, in the faith community that surrounds us, in the proclamation of the Sacred Scriptures, and in the Eucharist in which we share. Through this encounter with the living God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we courageously go out into the world proclaiming the Good News of salvation. Let's live it!
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners…..”