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Our Lady, Tom Brady, my daughter, and you: Power of witness



Tom Hoopes - published on 11/06/23

Without someone like Brady, Belichick can get nowhere; and without someone like Belichick, Brady can get only so far. There's a spiritual lesson here.

Jesus alone would be enough — but Jesus isn’t alone. That’s my first of four reasons to consecrate yourself to Mary. But what should happen after that?

I think I saw the answer watching the Patriots’ iffy performance after their star quarterback left— and by watching my eldest daughter’s children.

It is all about the power of witness.

Let’s start with Tom Brady.

Before quarterback Tom Brady left the Patriots, the big debate in the NFL was over which was more responsible for the team’s remarkable six Super Bowl wins for the 20 seasons he was there: Quarterback Brady or head coach Bill Belichick? But now it seems like the debate is settled. After he left, Brady won another Super Bowl and Belichick and the Patriots flailed. 

So, it turned out that Brady deserved the credit after all, right? Not so fast.

In fact, I think that Brady’s Patriots had the two things you need to accomplish big goals: A great master and a great practitioner. 

Belichick had made football his life’s study, but he needed a Brady, who made playing football his life’s work, to commit to his vision. Belichick’s leadership in the film-room was necessary, but wouldn’t work without a Brady mirroring his leading in the locker room. Belichick called the game from the sidelines; but his words would do nothing without Brady making them real on the field. 

Without someone like Brady, Belichick can get nowhere; and without someone like Belichick, Brady can get only so far. A Belichick needs a Brady to win, and a Brady needs a Belichick to win for 20 years. 

This same principle is visible, in a major way, in our children.

My wife and I have nine children — and our oldest daughters were the Tom Bradys of our family. My wife is a genius at child-raising principles. But her genius needed a witness to make her ideas compelling and imitatable. That’s where Cecilia and Olivia came in.

Our oldest were good girls, with a personal drive to do the right thing, and that allowed mom’s genius to exist outside her head. Since then I have noticed that the ease or difficulty of child-raising has a lot to do with the parents’ principles, for sure — but the other part of the equation is the free commitment of the oldest children. A great gameplan with straying kids will fail; a good-enough gameplan with committed children will soar. 

Their behavior is the difference between whether principles are pie-in-the-sky, or a pearl of great price. 

This principle is visible in a special way with Jesus and Mary — and not just her.

Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, consubstantial with the Father, is enough all on his own. He, uniquely, is both the Master and the manifestation — he is the Word made flesh, the Way and the wayfarer, the Truth and the voice of truth, the Life and the one who lives it abundantly.

But he wanted a witness that was unlike him but informed by him, one that showed that his way could exist in a variety of life circumstances. Jesus was a carpenter, Mary was a mother; Jesus was a preacher, Mary was a ponderer; Jesus was a healer, Mary pointed him toward needs.

Mary would be nothing without Jesus, and her virtues were very much informed by her son’s preaching. You can study her life and get live-action version of the Our Father, and beautiful example of the Beatitudes lived.

But this isn’t just true of Mary; every saint is a witness in the same way. 

Jesus wanted to show working people that he could be trusted, so he chose Peter; he wanted scholars to feel affinity, so he chose Paul. He chose explorers, lace-makers, civic leaders, slaves, royals, merchants, and crime victims. He sent them to be witnesses in every nation, the Gospel at work in every walk of life, the exemplar of every socio-economic category — witnesses to his life in every place and every age, from the ancient world to the digital age, from childhood to old age.

Every faithful Christian is an answer to the question the skeptical world is asking: Is the way of life proposed by Jesus possible? Is it pie in the sky or the pearl of great price? 

And now he has chosen you.

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