Lin Weeks Wilder

Lin Weeks Wilder

atheism, Christianity, conversion, faith, Prayer, Work

See? I told you!

Joe Mazzula on Boston Celtics Championship Run

See? I told you!

Celtics coach Joe Mazzula interrupted his conversation with interviewers about the Celtics win of the NBA basketball playoffs to grin at the off-camera shout, “We DID it!” and reply, “See, I told you!”

“Joe, what did you tell Jayson?” Only then do we understand that the shouter was Jayson Tatum, the twenty-six-year old who has been aiming and missing the championship for four years.

“I told him, you’ve got to have faith.”

His comment may sound trite. But that’s because you didn’t listen to few minutes preceding the interrupted interview. Mazzula’s reply to the “How did you do it?” was surprising to me and I suspect the interviewers.

“The difference between winning and losing is in the details…Most teams are closer to winning than they know…”

Then one of the interviewers cut though the hype questions and asked, “Can you explain your system of analytics, Joe?”

And elicited Mazzula’s explaination of the complex factors requiring constant analysis: the percentage of possessions, rebounds, thorough, meticulous analysis of both the Celtics’ errors and those of the opposing team. The constant need for strategy, change and thinking outside of the box. When we think about all of that, his comment, “See? I told you-you, you’ve got to have faith,” no longer sounds contrived. In fact, It makes us curious about the mind and heart of this man.

Attempting for a more egoistic answer, another of the interviewers asked, “So Joe, what did you personally do to bring this team to the chanpionship?”

“Stay out of their way…These are experts…”

It was my husband John who taught me that sports-football, basketball- could be a metaphor for life, faith, and happiness.

John knew I didn’t like football and seemed to have no problem with it. But this January evening, he insisted I stop working and come upstairs to watch Tom Brady’s first Playoff game. As I climbed the stairs, the camera happened to capture an expression on the twenty-three-year-old quarterback’s face . Mesmerized, I stopped and stared at determination, intensity, grit, calculation and will.These are just a few of the things I saw reflected in that young man’s eyes. And I was hooked. Understanding less than nothing about the game, I sat down, mesmerized. Because I realized that what I had just seen had nothing to do with football…and everything to do about life: yours and mine. About risk and choices, challenges and failures. About tenacity and resolve, passion and focus.

Football as metaphor for life, faith, and happiness
see? I told you!
Tom Brady throwing the ball at training camp in Foxborough MA.

What did Mazzula mean

when he told Tatum to have faith? Rather than the weak adjective too often used in speech, devout Catholic Mazzula refers to Saint Paul’s ” realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” The coach told Tatum that God “put us here for a reason.” All too often, believers and non alike think faith means we can sit and do nothing because God will take care of everything. Yes, that’s true, but our goal won’t be achieved without working our veritable —-‘s off! Saint Ignatius of Loyola is reputed to have advised,

“Work as if everything depends on you while believing that everything depends on God.”

Mazzula said this about Tatum: “He’s been gifted with this emotional stability and this mental toughness from whenever I first met him,” Celtics’ head coach Joe Mazzulla said. “All he has ever wanted to do is get better, whether that was figuring out how to be better for his teammates or figure out how to be better for his coaches. …”So he does it in every area, not just like basketball.”

See? I told you!

All of which leads me to Pope Benedict’s splendid encyclical, Spe Salvi.


Because these two men, who have untold influence on kids, on all of us who love watching excellence, openly speak about the faith-based hope that early Christians displayed…on ESPN and Fox and CNN! How can such a display not lead us to thinking and writing about Christian hope? [Spe Salvi]

Faith and Hope

SPE SALVI facti sumus”—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption”—salvation—is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey. Now the question immediately arises: what sort of hope could ever justify the statement that, on the basis of that hope and simply because it exists, we are redeemed? And what sort of certainty is involved here?

Spe Salvi

A dive into Pope Benedict’s writings takes work. Not because his writing style is incoherent, irrelevant or uninteresting but just the opposite. Each of Benedict’s words and paragraphs methodically dissects, integrates to then reveal the obvious as well as the cryptic. For example, In reflecting on Christian faith and hope, Pope Benedict liberally quotes relevant texts. But he insists on reflecting on the practical significance of Christian hope-are we changed?

Is Christian faith leading to hope real to each person, to you and me?

Or are these just nice thoughts, like an interesting story.

If real, exactly how are we changed?

Former African slave, Josephine Bakhita was seven or eight years of age when grabbed by slave traders. Josephine was flogged daily until she bled. She bore 147 scars until the end of her life. Resold, the Sudanese woman was introduced to a new Master. A Master who had accepted flogging and awaited her at the right hand of the Father. Through the knowledge of this hope she was “redeemed”, no longer a slave, but a free child of God.

At our Baptism there was a dialogue.

“What do you ask of the Church?”


“And what does Faith give you?”

“Eternal life.”

Methodically he pushes into the thoughts of unbelievers.

Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment. To continue living for ever —endlessly—appears more like a curse than a gift. Death, admittedly, one would wish to postpone for as long as possible. But to live always, without end—this, all things considered, can only be monotonous and ultimately unbearable. This is precisely the point made, for example, by Saint Ambrose, one of the Church Fathers, in the funeral discourse for his deceased brother Satyrus: “Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life, because of sin … began to experience the burden of wretchedness in unremitting labour and unbearable sorrow. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing”[6]. A little earlier, Ambrose had said: “Death is, then, no cause for mourning, for it is the cause of mankind’s salvat

Spe Salvi

See? I told you!

Acquins: faith is a habitus, that is, a stable disposition of the spirit, through which eternal life takes root in us and reason is led to consent to what it does not see. The concept of “substance” is therefore modified in the sense that through faith, in a tentative way, or as we might say “in embryo”—and thus according to the “substance”—there are already present in us the things that are hoped for: the whole, true life. And precisely because the thing itself is already present, this presence of what is to come also creates certainty: this “thing” which must come is not yet visible in the external world (it does not “appear”), but because of the fact that, as an initial and dynamic reality, we carry it within us, a certain perception of it has even now come into existence.

Spe Salvi
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Celtics and Joe Mazzula, metaphors for life, Pope Benedict, sports and life

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Lin Wilder

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. 

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