03 August 2009

Second Chances - Michael Vick

In our parish bulletin this week our pastor wrote a column dealing with NFL quarterback Michael Vick and his recent release from prison.

For those of you who don't know, Michael Vick was just released from prison after serving time for funding a dog fighting operation.

There are a couple of things about this story that I find interesting. First, I am amazed at the amount of hatred that has been directed towards Michael Vick. This is not to say that I am condoning dog fighting. Dog fighting is a terrible thing, but what if people showed the same hatred for other forms of evil that are happening in the world? There are millions of people starving in our world each day. Christians are persecuted and not allowed to practice their faith. Women are still victims of domestic abuse. Millions of babies are aborted each year. The list goes on and on. The challenge for us is that every injustice in our world demands our attention. Part of our mission as Christians is to bring both justice and mercy to a world torn by sin.

Second, his story once again challenges us to forgive as Jesus Christ taught us. Tony Dungy, a former head coach in the NFL, went to visit Michael Vick while he was in prison. Tony is a faithful Christian who has tried his best to live his faith both in his profession and in his family life. This is what he had to say about the situation.

"Michael's future, just like those of thousands of other inmates around the country is worth saving. [ . . . ] I firmly believe Michael deserves a second chance in life. I understand how appalling dogfighting is, and in no way do I condone it. But he was given a punishment that the court deemed appropriate, and now he exits prison having paid for that crime. It's time to let him bounce back after that loss. If we are willing to forgive Michael and take an honest look at the person who is leaving that prison we might be surprised at what we see. We might see a man who says 'I'm sorry' with his actions and not just his words. We might see a man who wants to get back to his three children and stop the cycle of young people growing up without a father to help them. I'm not sure of the Michael we would see on the field, but I believe we would see a very different person off the field. That's what would be exciting to me."

Put yourself in the shoes of Michael Vick. Would you want to be given a second chance? All of us have done things in our life that we would do differently today. We give thanks to God for the many times we have been forgiven.

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