April 2007

The Cricket World Cup

Witnessing to Christian Faith in the Global Village.

Over the last few weeks the Cricket Match World Cup has been played out in the Caribbean.   There’s been plenty of great play and a great deal of not so great play. The big surprise of the competition has of course been the success of the Irish team – who would have thought it!  There’s also been plenty of controversy and tragedy.  The high prices of tickets costing a month’s salary, making it impossible for many local people to go to see the matches.  The horrible and still unresolved death of the Pakistan team’s coach and the talk of match-rigging.  This is cricket – though it often seems that ‘it just isn’t cricket,’ as the saying goes.

Cricket World CupCricket may not be everyone’s favourite sport.   Some may find it mystifying or even boring, but all can see that like all world sporting events it has brought the different nations together. It has brought people of different faiths together in a common work.  They may be competing against each other to win, but they are united in the game and in their love of the game.  Such an event symbolises the reality of the world we live as the twenty-first century gets under way.  The world has increasingly become a global village, in which, you might say, there is played a global game of village cricket.  No longer are other countries or other cultures or other faiths remote from each other.  They are united by the realities of international economies and politics and not least by the global media that makes far-off places seem very near. 

We live in a global village with all the problems that brings, but also with all the possibilities of getting to know and of working with other people. And there is scope for a spirit of healthy competition when it comes to witnessing to who we are as Christians and to what we have to offer.  Just as the different teams in the World Cup are representatives of their nations and strive to win not just for their own achievement but also for the honour of their country and culture, so the Christian community is on show as the world gets smaller. There is an opportunity and a need to take pride in who we are and to ‘play at our best,’ to work to manifest the strengths and resources that the Holy Spirit gives to us.   And it’s helpful to see our work of evangelisation as carried out in the spirit of sporting competition as its best, with all the courtesy and fair play that is involved.  We shouldn’t feel reluctant or embarrassed to witness to the good things of our faith, no more than any team would expect to win if it shied away from making full use of all its talents.

Yet this has to be done in the sporting spirit that is appropriate to out faith – the spirit of love.  Love is uncompromising in the truth, but ‘patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.’ (I Corinthians 12: 4-7).  This is cricket – the cricket of good Christian evangelisation.  The reality of our global village is all too often marked by violence and greed, by the desire to make others suffer when we cannot get our way, or by the willingness to maximise our wealth, while depriving others of their chance to enjoy the good things of live and to enjoy the game that should be the lives of all.  To evangelise the world is to insist that the fair play of love is the mark of all its realities and events. 

Irish Cricket Team Player

There’s often a feeling of gloom and despondency within the  Christian community, especially in Europe, the feeling that there’s no chance of winning as Christian belief and practice continue to decline.  Yet we may be surprised.  Who knows, we may still have the ‘luck of the Irish.’  We just have to play to the best of out abilities.