A friend of mine told me a few days ago that his brother, a professional gambler, placed a $50,000 bet on Sunday’s Superbowl game. Then I learned that the game had reaped more than $23 billion in gambling with some 68 million Americans estimated participating. (For numbers geeks like me that’s about $340 per person). That’s a boatload of money, but I wanted to understand it as more than just a number. How could I picture that many billions of dollars? So here is one example:
In 2022 there were some 90 countries in our world whose annual GDP is less than $23 billion.
And that got me to thinking about faith, of all things!
Gambling is putting faith AND money on the line in a game of pure chance (if we discount game-fixing). It is placing one’s faith in a cash payoff of an as yet determined event. And $23 billion is a LOT of faith in a game with no certain outcome!
Then I got to thinking about medicine, and the commercials that tell us to have “faith” in science. “Believe the science” they say. Yet, science itself, is still something of a gamble. It is imperfect, though based on supposed proven methods and human ingenuity, still has risks to life and limb. That’s not conspiracy, just historical fact. Thalidomide was once considered to be a scientifically proven “safe” drug for pregnant women; time told a different, and devastating story.
The author of Hebrews 11:1 states that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” When you look at it out of the context of “religious” faith, it can just as easily be applied to football or medicine. Oh sure, there are statistics, and odds, and even experiments to back them up, but in the end, doesn’t it all come down to the individual’s “faith” in what they attempt (or are being told) to believe?
Some would have us believe that our faith in Christ is unreasonable, but this just makes me chuckle (inside) at their observation. Those who would have us “believe” in a game of chance enough to bet our hard-earned money, or that humans can “cure” the world of its’ ills are, in my estimation, the unreasonable ones.
As we profess our faith outwardly with Ash Wednesday and Lenten practice, we may have the opportunity to share our faith. For our faith is not a game of chance, or the result of human genius, but is grounded on Jesus Christ, Sacred Scripture, and 2,000 years of Tradition. Sunday’s game created both winners and losers – those who place their faith in Jesus will always and forever be winners. He was, and still is, the greatest hope for humanity.