I entitle this piece “The Game of Life.”
To begin, playing games is not just for children. As adults, how utterly refreshing it is to abdicate adult ways to play as children. We do this best when we play with people who do not scorn, devalue such play. The characteristics of children’s play are total absorption, sheer enjoyment and exuberance. No cell phones to interrupt.
In the game of life, we can choose some players but not all. How do we treat people who play the game of life with us: as members of the team, spectators, negotiators, cooperators, competitors that lead to winners and losers? Do we ask what’s winnable for all?
For all who know the world’s history, it’s clear that some games people play are positive. Others are not. The negative ones include dirty tricks, manipulation, brinksmanship, addiction to playing games of chance, destruction by mind games or war games, and sex games that are predicated on body use, inequality and no loving commitment. If this represents how we play, there will be no dreaming, no seeing connections, no risk-taking for the common good, no delight in common victories .For people who play negative games, whoever has the most toys wins.
What are the games that Jesus would not play?
- He never backed off from what he said, and he meant what he said.
- In John 6, Jesus would not back down from saying He would give His Body and Blood as food.
- He would not deny who he was. Remember Jesus and Pilate: Are you a king?
- He was not impressed with the wealth and class that people used to gain prominence.
- He refused to play word games with the Pharisees who tried to trap him, as they did before the adulterous woman in John 8. He put no one down not the rich young man who went away or the thief crucified with him.
Christianity has its own way of knowing who has won the game of life. By the fruits of what we are and do, we know we have won, not when others are in shambles.
The important ingredient in the enriching game of life is that we try to be the consistent person of integrity: life-giving in action and attitude, faithful to the Lord and to who we are, becoming all that we can be.
Saint John XXIII told this about himself: “I believe that when I stand before God, God will simply ask of me “How did you use the gift of life I gave you?’ “
Did John XXIII play well? Do we?
~Joan Sobala, SSJ