The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”-Luke 1:19-20
“SHOOT THE DAMN BALL!”
My eyes were already back on the TV as I hit send, and the reply was almost instant: “That’s exactly what I just yelled at my TV.”
In most moments in soccer, it is better to be unselfish, to make the good pass, to find the person with the best angle to move toward the goal. There are 11 players on the team and so, it stands to reason, being selfish is a bad idea most of the time (even if, I would argue, you are a superstar, hello Messi with the assist to Molina). There are moments to be unselfish. But there are also moments when you are handed a gift and you say, “thank you very much” and drive it into the back of the net.
I won’t name names (DePaul), but Argentina had at least one of these moments in their nail-biting penalty kick victory over the Dutch yesterday. When someone hands you a gift, say “thank you very much” and drive it into the back of the net.
Zechariah does not get much credit in the advent story–probably because he spends almost a year unable to speak–but he has a weirdly long and detailed story. Zechariah appears in this highly descriptive encounter with the angel Gabriel, again at the birth of John the Baptist, and following the birth, he has a whole praise song, a sort of reprise of Mary’s Magnificat in a masculine voice. Joseph–the presumed father of Jesus–doesn’t get his own song. Zechariah spends plenty of playing time, but we remember him as an early sub who barely makes an impact on the play.
What makes Zechariah forgettable is that he is the guy who is handed a gift and takes one too many touches. He questions whether this is too easy, he looks for the pass when he has a wide open goal, he misses his moment. We’ve all been there, turning an easy yes into an over-digested “who, me?” Sometimes, good news is just good news.
I don’t really believe in the soccer gods, but I do believe in divine gifts. When someone hands you the thing you always wanted and makes it look easy in a way that belies the decades you worked for it and makes you question everything you ever believed–shoot the damn ball. Don’t ask why the goal is wide open now. Don’t question divine gifts.
Accept the gift, and let the moment be divine and incomprehensible and everything you dreamed.