The Olympic Games Rio 2016 has started on Friday, 5th August in Rio de Janeiro and it will end on Sunday, 21st August. Some of you would have watched the opening ceremony and are already in the ‘Olympic’ mood watching the athletes’ performances.
The Holy Father, Pope Francis has announced the universal prayer intentions for the month of August: “That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.” The Pope also says, “I dream of sports as the practice of human dignity, turned into a vehicle of fraternity.”
He is hoping and praying that every Christian will help to bring about world peace through this Olympics Games Rio 2016. As we keep track of the athletes’ performances and all the Rio Olympic news, our Holy Father wants every Christian to live the Gospel values, giving witness to our faith, to be honest and love one another.
Sport has historically played an important role in our societies. Sport has benefited and contributed strongly in various aspects especially for individual development, health, humanitarian, social integration and development of peace building.
When I was a young boy I was very much involved in sports mainly as a long distance runner and in football. Sports has built me a better platform in my outreach with my Malay, Chinese and Indian friends. We participated together and competed against each other in sports and this further strengthened our solidarity and fraternity despite all the differences. Today our children and young people are spending a lot of time surfing their Internet and no longer go outside and play or mix with their peers. This is in fact weakening them instead of gathering them together towards achieving a common goal, promoting fellowship, solidarity, and peace.
The world has changed a lot. Today’s world is not a safe place to allow our kids to go out and play. Terrorist attacks, crime and violence take place everywhere in the world killing and injuring thousands of innocent lives and threaten our people’s safety. The threat rates are going higher and higher each day. Many terrorist groups continue to plan and carry out attacks without treasuring the gospel values of peace, fraternity and human dignity.
As we follow the Olympic Games, let us learn to use sports as an important investment not only for our physical activities or play but also for developing peace, fraternity and human dignity. Children and adults alike, do take part in various sports for your own benefit and to build a community spirit. Let us keep fit while praying the intention of the Holy Father for the present and future of our
families, community and nation.
Fr. George Packiasamy.