For this edition of THURSDAY’S THOUGHTS, I wanted to focus on the Lenten Season and the NCAA March Madness Tournament.
The long journey of fasting, sacrifice, and performing positive acts during the Lenten Season has come and gone, much like the road to the final game of the NCAA March Madness Tournament. As many of us know, out of the 64 teams, Villanova was the last team standing this past Monday and has been crowned the Champions of the 2018 tournament. After blowing out their opponents by an average margin of 17.7 points per game, no other Division I college basketball team ever came close to the dynamic characteristics and elite prowess that the Villanova Wildcats possess. Even after dominating their opponents throughout their season through their physical play and shooting efficiency, the National Champions did not credit their victory to their abilities but, to the common themes of God, faith, brotherhood, patience, selflessness, and togetherness. Some statements from the Villanova Basketball student-athletes included “being blessed” and “faith keeping us humble and hungry”. Their faith was the bond that created their brotherhood and family oriented environment amongst the teammates which created a winning culture and “Attitude”. This is Villanova’s second national championship in three years. Their three year journey of being crowned Champions in 2016, to falling in the second round to Wisconsin in 2017, and to their rise and being crowned champions again this year is very inspiring, motivating, and something to reflect upon.
Their story reminds me of Christ’s journey from His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), to His passion of taking up His cross to be crucified, and to His resurrection and redemption of our souls. From the triumphs, to the lows of defeat, to the crowning and celebrations of winning on the cross and on the court, we cannot be resilient through our journey of life without trusting in our Lord and Savior. Even though Sr. Jean’s team (Loyola-Chicago) did not win the whole tournament, I am sure that Sr. Jean and Fr. Rob Hagen (Villanova Team Chaplain) gave their athletes similar messages about Jesus being the link that holds their teams together. After this Lenten Season and watching the NCCA Tournament, there is a realization that we have sacrificed and worked hard to build a closer relationship with God and the athletes have sacrificed and worked hard to get to where they needed to be to perform well but, as a whole, we must believe that Jesus is the link, the chain, and the bond that will bring all of us together for the ultimate win.