You don’t have to be a baseball fan to know that tonight’s World Series game in Chicago’s Wrigley Field is historic. It’s the first such game to be played in the storied stadium since the “Curse of the Billy Goat” began.
Here’s the story: The Cubs were playing the Detroit Tigers in the 1945 World Series. Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis brought his pet goat to the game, but its odor offended nearby fans. When stadium officials asked Billy to leave, he famously declared, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” And they haven’t.
For the next seventy-one years, the Cubs were the poster child for sports futility. No team in any sport has gone so long without playing for a championship. The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908; that year, there were only forty-six states in the United States. It’s been longer since the Cubs won the World Series than it was between their last championship and the presidency of John Adams.
All sorts of efforts have been made to break the Curse. A severed goat’s head was delivered to the team in 2013. A Greek Orthodox priest sprayed holy water around the Cubs dugout in 2008. A goat’s butchered head was hung from the statue of legendary Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray in 2009. All to no avail.
Enter Father Burke Masters.
Father Masters dreamed of playing major league baseball. He had a .315 career batting average in college, but he was not drafted by the pros. He began working as an administrator for a minor league team when God called him into the priesthood. He was ordained in 2002 and appointed to the Diocese of Joliet (a suburb of Chicago) in 2006.
He also serves as Catholic chaplain for the Chicago Cubs. Father Masters celebrates Mass at Wrigley Field before each Cubs home game. He offers confessions and spiritual guidance to anyone who asks. Cubs manager Joe Maddon also lets him get in uniform and practice with the team.
During this year’s spring training, Father Masters said, “I was out on the field and there were tears in my eyes. It was as if God was telling me, ‘This was your dream’—I wanted to be a pro ballplayer—but he said, ‘You’re living my dream.’ Now I can do both. I can be a priest and be here in the Major Leagues at the same time. I’m humbled to my toes to be able to do this and give back what God has given me.”
In these days of vitriolic politics, WikiLeaks scandals, atrocities in Mosul, and earthquakes in Italy, we can use some good news. But while we wait for the curse of sin to be lifted from our fallen world (Romans 5:12), let’s do what we can to bring light to darkness and joy to pain.
Your dream is no match for God’s dream for you. Your greatest aspirations cannot begin to compare to your Father’s perfect will for your life (Romans 12:2). If Father Masters could do it all over, would he choose his plan or God’s?
Ask your Father to use your influence in our fallen culture for his greatest glory and your greatest good. Then follow where his Spirit leads you. Millions of years after tonight’s game is forgotten, your next act of obedience will resound in eternity.