While it is true that the majority of people in the United States were rooting for the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, it is safe to assume that the overwhelming majority of New Englanders are still euphoric from the Patriots surprising comeback victory. But their unprecedented comeback was not the only surprise of the Super Bowl.
While it did not air as a commercial during the Super Bowl, Pope Francis issued a video statement to those in attendance at NRG Stadium in Houston for Super Bowl LI. It was the first time a pope addressed a Super Bowl audience. This should not surprise us as Pope Francis has put such an emphasis on evangelization and the need for the Church to go out into the streets with the gospel message.
The Pope’s message was focused on how sports can be an opportunity to build peace through a culture of encounter. He ended his message by saying, “May this year’s Super Bowl be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity for the world.”
We can all learn from Pope Francis the importance of bringing the gospel message to the public square. The Church can never be closed in on herself, for, as the Pope has said, a self-referential Church is a sick Church.
As Patriots fans watched the Super Bowl they were inspired to never give up, regardless of how bad things look. As Catholics, we should be inspired by Pope Francis’s Super Bowl message to never give up spreading the gospel, even when it seems society is not interested in hearing it.