Full disclosure – I am not Brazilian. I’m only just starting to appreciate soccer, so I can’t really call myself a fan. I had never heard of the Chapecoense team before I woke up on Tuesday morning and read an article in Portuguese saying that a plane carrying them had crashed, killing almost all on board.
Since then, however, my thoughts have frequently turned to the victims, the survivors, and their friends and family. Losing that many people at once from a single group, the grief must be astronomical. The Chapecoense players were headed to the most important game of their lives. The video shows their joyful celebration after their last match. They had rapidly moved up the leagues in Brazil and were going to play in the finals of the Copa Sudamericana in Medellin, Colombia. They most likely all believed that they would make it to Medellin without a problem. We all know when we board a plane that there is a possibility that it will crash, but really, that hardly happens anymore, right?
The crash made me think of last Sunday’s Gospel for the first Sunday of Advent: “So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Mt 25: 44) None of us knows when we will die, whether it will be at the Second Coming or some time long before that. Also from Sunday’s Gospel: “Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left.” (Mt 25:40)
The season of Advent is traditionally a time to think of the last four things: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. The Chapecoense plane crash gives us an opportunity to recognize that we may not have as much time as we think. Let’s use this time of Advent to prepare for the coming of our Lord by drawing closer to Him. If you’ve been away from Confession for a while, go now and wipe your slate clean. If you’re already feeling good about your spiritual life, consider adding another spiritual practice to your schedule, if you are able. It might be praying part of the Liturgy of the Hours, spending time in Eucharistic Adoration, or attending daily Mass. If those things seem like too much, try meditating on the Gospel reading for the day for 15 minutes. Do whatever you can to draw closer to the Lord. Even in this time of waiting, He is waiting for you!
Our sincere prayers go out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this tragic accident. We pray for the souls of all who have passed: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.