As a kid I loved sleeping over at my uncle’s house on Wednesday nights just so I could watch my favorite wrestling program. Once the program had started, nothing and no one could drag me away from my seat, which I fiercely guarded, in front of the television. But when I learned in grade school that the human body was actually composed of fragile bones and tearable muscles, my fascination at watching Hulk Hogan take on a dozen opponents at one time all but faded. I had also confirmed the rumor that the matches were “scripted” (actually, choreographed is a more accurate term) and that those gargantuan guys were merely actors with over-sized biceps and bloated egos.
However, when I heard that the 2006 Wrestle Mania champion, Dave “The Animal” Batista, is half-Filipino, I have since reconsidered my smug snobbery of what advertisers pride as “the greatest show on earth.” From time to time I would watch the highlights of The Animal’s fights and I would be transported back to the days when nothing was better than a glass of warm milk after watching a good Wednesday night wrestling match. From the furtive glances at Batista’s Smackdown and RAW fights I am re-acquainted with the likes of Kane, Chris Benoit, Triple H, Rey Mysterio, JBL, Randy Orton and the Big Show. Watching them perform—as they jump and dive, elbow and punch, kick and slap, and strangle each other and utter insults at one another—make me realize that they are actually re-enacting in a crude fashion some Gospel values. Yup! Absurd as it may sound but you read it right: The Gospel according to 300-pound wrestlers.
Take for example how the 165-pound, 5’3” dimunitive wrestler, Rey Mysterio, who pinned down and beat the 500-pound Big Show. Or how the over-bearing and overly-dressed JBL who always arrived in the arena in his spanking new limo was humbled by a virtually unknown newcomer. Kings like Booker T were dethroned by mere gladiators like Batista and those who bragged their titles about were stripped of them. In wrestling, size and number do matter but they do not an outcome make. Reversals of fortune do happen here as they are proclaimed in the Gospels.
The Blessed Virgin Mary beautifully and eloquently speaks about these and other reversals when she sings of the goodness of the Lord in her Magnificat—of how a mere maidservant could be hailed as the greatest of all women whom all generations shall call blessed, and of how those who languished for the longest time would finally find reprieve.
He has shown might with his arm, has scattered the proud in their conceit.He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.The hungry he has filled with good things but the rich He has sent away empty.
And this is what usually happens in wrestling matches. The “Big” threatens the small ones. The powerful belittles the weak. The famous and wealthy scorn those who have none. But they who remain humble and trust not in the vigor of their own arms but fight until the last of their breath “shall regain their strength” (Is 40:31). They who do not cheat and whose “hands are clean” and have not “sworn as to deceive” another (Psalm 24), they shall ascend the throne [the mountain of the Lord] as rightful kings.
Finally, in wrestling matches, as in our daily lives, there are what we call Tag Teams. Two wrestlers face a pair of opponents and together they aim to defeat them. One wrestler for example may try to outwit and outplay another from the opposing team. But should he be weaker than his adversary, when he is weighed down and can no longer move, when he comes close to losing strength and hope, all he needs to do is reach his arm out and touch the finger of his tag partner (like the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak in Mt 9:20-22) and help is on its way.
In one way or another we may experience like we are being belittled, threatened, scorned by others more powerful and more intelligent than us. We may also feel that the weight of the whole world is on our bare shoulders and that we are losing stamina and strength to move on. We feel that we are ready to give up. We acknowledge that some things are just too much and too big for us. And it is in this recognition of our weakness and neediness that we get the help that we need. All we have to do is reach out our arm, or even lift a finger high, and the Ultimate Tag Partner shall finish the job for us. Isn’t that comforting a thought?
Now the more important question is, in the daily grind of your life, have you considered Jesus as a viable and available Tag Team partner?
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.