I’ve thought a lot about my alma mater, the University of Missouri, lately, in the wake of the racial unrest there, particularly as it relates to the recent actions of the football team. First it was the African-American players who spoke up and put their scholarships on the line to combat the coverups of some hateful incidents there. Then the white football players joined them. Then the head coach, Gary Pinkel, joined them, and before you know it, Mizzou stood to lose a great deal in money in football revenue if they boycotted the BYU game. These few young men refused to be hemmed in. As it turned out, some major changes occurred in administration, and this small gridiron army had changed the entire campus.
I might also add that this Mizzou football team is no stranger to standing up for what’s right. This is the same team that last year came out in solidarity when their star defensive end, Michael Sam, announced that he was gay. This relatively small band of brothers has not once, but twice, made a difference in the world. They make me proud to be a Mizzou alum, and they continually hold my feet to the fire to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk, in my journey as a Christian.
If this is what a football team can do, what we, as the church, can do with God’s help, can be beyond the scope of our imaginations. As Christians, we are called again and again to stand up and refuse to let the multitude hem us in. These verses from our reading in 1 Maccabees today remind us that we should see being outnumbered as normal. They also remind us that we need to be fed, and spur us to be a part of the life of the church through worship, study, reflection, and discernment of the talents we possess in restoring the world.