Confessions of a Saint Louis Cardinals Fan

Confessions of a Saint Louis Cardinals Fan

confession

The first confession I have to make is that I’m not really a Cardinal’s fan, although I grew up as one. I converted in my mid-twenties when I realized the insecurity of the fan base in Saint Louis (ah… the 1990’s when the Cardinals weren’t always contenders in the division). The second confession I have to make is that I only chose the title of this article merely as a hook to get you to read. Sorry about that. The third confession I have is that Cardinals fans can give us a really good insight into the scriptures this weekend if you know what you are looking for.
For most of us living in the Lake View neighborhood (although not all), we tend not to have high regard for Cardinals fans, especially during the month of October. With the mounting tension that exists between the two baseball teams, some of us, through jealousy, befall the vexed human lament that “nothing could possibly be good about someone who disagrees with me.” For many of us, the very existence of the “other” is an existential threat to our own ideas and that makes the “other” scary, unconscionable, untrustworthy, and sometimes sub-human. Or to put it another way, we’re often the ones who are insecure.
But It is through the example of the “other” that Jesus teaches us a profound lesson.
In today’s readings (Lk 17:11-19), a narrative ruse frequently used by Jesus is repeated, and if we’re not paying attention, we miss it. Jesus is telling the story about the thankful man who returns after being healed while nine other ingrates were never to be heard of again. Almost casually, Jesus slips in the detail “He was a Samaritan.”
We miss the meaning of this detail because we tend to think of Samaritans as good people. After all, we know the story of “The Good Samaritan.” But any countryman of Jesus who heard his story would have been embarrassed, shamed, and fuming with rage to have that little detail slip out of Jesus’ mouth.
Samaritans were anathema. They were the geographically neighboring, abhorrent vermin who bastardized elements of the Jewish cult with their own Gods, ideas, temples, and disgusting rituals. That is why in so far as Cardinals fans are geographically neighboring to us, you can see why I’ve ventured into a comparison linking them to the Samaritan in the story. The rest of the comparison may be a bit sketchy.
But Jesus does two things with just a little detail that should challenge us deeply. By mentioning the Samaritan, first He recognized that just because someone is different, doesn’t mean they lack the dignity imbued upon them by God the Creator. The second thing Jesus did is highlighted that somebody who is different might still have something valuable to teach us and therefore challenge us to do better.
In a divided world of rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, Democrats and Republicans, and even Cubs and Cardinals fans, can we be humble enough to recognize that the stranger, the person who is different, the “other” is still a child of God and possibly even better at the task of being a good person than we are?
Why should we swallow our pride, our presumptions, and our prejudice to enter into the vulnerability of this chanced grace? Why see the good in someone with whom we a diametrically opposed? One good reason…
Because Jesus did.
-David Heimann

Pastoral Associate P.S. Go Cubs!

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