“Just a kid from Akron” (Ohio), LeBron James was the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was instantly a hometown hero.  LeBron was to be the savior that would rescue Cleveland from the 50-year championship drought the city has had. This is a city that loves its sports teams but suffers devastating loss after loss. Cleveland had placed all of its hopes in “King James”.

But in 2010, in an interview known as “The Decision,”  James announced he was leaving Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat. As can be expected, although not necessarily justified, many fans in Ohio weren’t reserved in expressing their feelings of betrayal and abandonment.  James went on to lead the Heat to four consecutive appearances in the finals and two championships in 2012 and 2013.

However,  in 2014 this modern “prodigal son” returned to Cleveland and his emotional comeback is something that anyone that loves sports can’t help but be excited about. When LeBron James announced his return to Cleveland, the same city that had burned his jersey in the streets and cursed his name, welcomed him home with open arms.  The “sin” of  James’ past was quickly forgotten, and the city once again placed their home in him.

“We owe them, we are going to grind for this city… They are going to support us… the toughness that we have on the court is going to come from this city, everybody, the whole city of Cleveland, that’s what it’s all about. It’s time to bring them something special.”

Are these just words? Just a script for an ad? Or something more?

What transforms pleasure into happiness? What’s the difference between rocking jersey sales in Miami and rocking an entire city back home?

Communion. Family. Unity. Evidently, I don’t know the man or much about him, but the events of his life (whether he knows it or not) and this  Nike ad certainly lend themselves to a deeper interpretation.

It’s the what we are trying to say when we speak about the unity of the Church, about the communion of saints, about the power of intercessory prayer, etc. Sometimes we tend to blow it off as superstition or some ancient poetry. We watch a video like this, and the heart starts pumping and a dream for greatness, so often silenced by doubt and skepticism, starts to awaken.

Doesn’t this have something to tell us about our faith as well?

“All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, who apportions them to each one as He determines. The body is a unit, though it is comprised of many parts. And although its parts are many, they all form one body. So it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free, and we were all given one Spirit to drink.…” (1 Corinthians 12:12)

That we are all in it together, that working together for one goal, that of Christ,  we are infinitely stronger and greater than any one man or woman on his own, no matter how talented they might be.

The unity that we can reach in this lifetime will always come with few scrapes and bruises. Does this mean we stop trying? Who will be the one to throw the first stone? Instead, why not drop the stone and start living as true human beings, as a true Catholics? With the grace of Christ, just two things are needed: hard work and togetherness.

Questions for Reflection:

We are all prodigal sons and we are called to be the merciful father. Think of another example of a modern “prodigal.”  How can you show others this type of mercy in your life?

How do you “cheer on” others? What ways can you encourage others to grow in their faith?

Why do we need “teammates” in our faith journey?

According to the CCC 948, The term “communion of saints” therefore has two closely linked meanings: communion in holy things (sancta)” and “among holy persons (sancti).”  How do we live out our communion among holy persons? What does that look like practically speaking?

Why do you think it is important to take real stories, like Lebron James’, and draw parallels to the faith? Do you think God speaks to us through current events?