Jesus the 12th Man?

You know it's World Cup time when Jesus laces up to hit the pitch.

Today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had a picture of the Child of Miracles from St. Gabriel the Archangel Church in Mexico. Since 1990, the statue has been dressed up in the uniform of the Mexican national team and considered the 12th man.

Last year, the statue was suited up for the Mexico v US game, a huge victory for the Mexican team as well as their national pride. This year, as Mexico prepares for Group A, Mexico will be in the spotlight as their group contains the host team, South Africa. As usual, the people of San Gabriel Church will be praying for the victory of the team.

I've written before about a Theology of Football ( FĂștbol in this case), but I think the inclusion of a suited-up Jesus adds a little twist. Are people just including Jesus in their everyday experience, or is this simply sacrilege?

I'll let you decide.

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2 Response to Jesus the 12th Man?

June 14, 2010 at 10:27 AM

It strikes me as an instance of popular piety rather than sacrilege.

It would be interesting to know how they'd explain precisely what they are asking Jesus to do, particularly in the light of the universality of God's salvific will. Hopefully it would be something along the lines of, "Help them all to do their best and avoid injuries."

At some point, it has to become apparent to people who think it through that Jesus won't cause the team to win just because they invoke his assistance. Of course a lot of people probably don't think it through; for them, it's just one of the ways their faith manifests itself.

But there is the wider problem of the overselling of prayer: people come to believe that if they pray hard enough or in the right way, they can force God to do what they want. And unfortunately, what can happen to people who have this naive view of the power of prayer is that when God does not cure the sick person or otherwise does not grant a serious request, is that they decide that God either does not exist or does not care.

June 15, 2010 at 11:21 PM

I agree with your points about "overselling prayer," as I've seen it many times in my life.

Personally I wonder about a sense of, to use an evangelical term, "Spiritual Immaturity." Perhaps we might say "lack of good catechesis"

Thanks for your imput!