Wednesday, January 22, 2014

St. Sebastian, patron saint of athletes: Daily Mass Homily--Monday, January 20th, 2014

           St. Sebastian, my patron saint, was quite a dude.  As a soldier of the Roman army, he evangelized his comrades while Christians were being persecuted under Diocletian.  When the emperor found out, Sebastian was ordered to be executed by arrows.
            He survived!  The woman who came to prepare his body for burial found him still alive and nursed him back to health.  Sebastian’s exemplary courage can be seen in that he did not flee Rome after his near-martyrdom.  Rather, he faced the emperor himself and denounced him for his persecution of Christians.  Sebastian was then beheaded for the faith.  As a man of strength and courage, Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes and soldiers.
            Through St. Sebastian’s intercession I have learned first-hand how powerful athletics and our faith can be.  Indeed, God has given us bodies to glorify His name and competition can do this.
            Sadly, though, many in our own society treat sports as a religion.  Many of our students spend twenty hours a week at practices, games and travel while often having to choose between either these activities or religious education and Mass.  Often lack of playing time can be the result.
            I have often seen t-shirts that read, “Basketball [or insert another sport here] is life, the rest is just details.”  I know because I used to have one!  Yet this approach is backwards because sports will always end.  The only subject that could be used here is God.  And if so we can say, “God is life, the rest [even sports] is awesome.”
            Before each of my workouts I seek St. Sebastian’s intercession.  I offer it now, asking God to inspire our student athletes both to seek Him first and to excel in athletic endeavors:
Dear Commander at the Roman emperor’s court, you chose also to be a soldier for Christ and dared to spread faith in the king of kings, for which you were condemned to die.  Your body, however, proved athletically strong and the executing arrows extremely weak, so another means to kill you was chosen and you gave your life to the Lord.  May all athletes be as strong in their faith as their patron saint most clearly has been.
            St. Sebastian, patron saint of athletes, pray for us.

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