Moments of grace found watching the Big Game.
Inspiration sometimes comes from unexpected to sources. These three ads played during Super Bowl 2020 strike an emotional chord and awaken in us a sense of the good and the beautiful.
Love Takes Action
For the first time in thirty years the New York Life Insurance Company produced a Super Bowl commercial. I found it to be incredibly beautiful and powerfully Christian. Built around the four different kinds of love in the Greek language, the ad highlights the greatest of these: agape.
New York Life tells the viewer, “The fourth kind of love is different. It’s the most admirable. It’s called ‘Agape’ – love as an action.” The ad continues, saying, “It takes courage. Sacrifice. Strength.” Accompanying this description are moving scenes of family life and works of mercy.
For a Christian, agape is the greatest of the four loves. It is the self-sacrificing love proclaimed by Christ in his own death on the cross; it is charity. Jesus exhorts his disciples to remain in this love (John 15:9) and demonstrates its meaning by laying down his life for his friends.
C.S. Lewis says of agape, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” Christ will necessarily change our hearts by his life and love. After all, to be a Christian, to love, is to be more perfectly conformed to Him.
My group of friends gathered for our annual Super Bowl viewing fell dead silent as an elderly man began to use Google to explore memories of his departed wife, Loretta. The Google spot prompts deep reflection on how technology allows us to recall and celebrate our most important relationships.
Francis Fenelon, a 16th-century theologian and archbishop, reminds us that there is no shame in missing those we love. He writes, “We could be tempted to wish that all good friends might wait to die on the same day. Those who have no affection would bury the whole human race with dry eyes and light hearts, such men are unworthy to live. Our sensibility to friendship costs us much, but those who possess it would be ashamed to be without it – they would rather suffer than be devoid of feeling.”
For anyone who has watched a loved one struggle with memory loss or grief, the commercial arouses the desire to remember and treasure the gifts of family life that are so precious and dear. It clearly struck a chord with viewers. As of noon today, Monday, the ad has been viewed nearly 12 million times.
The ad ends with the narrator’s joyful proclamation, “Remember, I’m the luckiest man in the world.”
Audi Presents: Let it go
Even the most ardent anti-Frozen viewer can sympathize with Maisie Williams as her drive showcases the weary scenes of city life. Stuck in traffic and surrounded by the rust and shadow of an urban landscape, Williams begins to sing Elsa’s now ubiquitous anthem “Let it go.”
Pope Benedict XVI once cautioned, “If, in fact, man forgets in his work that he is a collaborator of God, he can do violence to creation and cause untold damage that always has negative consequences, also on human beings, as we have unfortunately seen on various occasions.”
For anyone who’s ever given the least thought to the frustrations of commuter traffic and the dust and debris of American consumerism’s refuse, the commercial offers a quick glimpse of relief and renewal. The next time the sights of towering smokestacks and the snares of gridlock provoke animalistic rage and anger, look to the freedom of Christ. Be a collaborator of the Creator and offer yourself to His designs. Pray to let it go!