The XXIV Winter Olympics have commenced in Beijing. This is a time when we come together in friendly competition as a world community.
With that in mind, let us pray that the Olympics be the occasion for all people to work together for unity and peace, rather than grandstanding and false nationalism.
At this time, Pope Francis also calls our attention to working together for a world community based on fraternity and welcome. In his reflections on the Olympic and Paralympic Games, he reminds us that the “true gold medal” goes to everything that helps the global community be more welcoming and accepting of all people.
In union with the Holy Father, let us pray for a world that welcomes all human beings.
Finally, we hear that these games are a tribute to the human spirit. At the same time, they remind us of the Spirit that animates us all. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul writes, “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we run to win an imperishable one.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)
In particular, we remember that Chongli, the main venue for Olympic skiing events, is also the site where on more than one occasion, Chinese Catholics witnessed to their faith at the cost of their lives. These brothers and sisters in faith remind us of Saint Paul’s comments to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
During this time, let us pray for all the people of China, and especially for those Chinese who have been heroic witnesses to the Gospel. These are difficult times for all people around the world. This is especially true for the people of China and its Christian communities, who have been cut off from easy travel to other parts of the world. Let us be diligent in reaching out to our brothers and sisters in China, and let us pray that the Spirit sustain them.