Browns vs. Steelers

Can Browns and Steelers Fans Be Friends?

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The Browns and Steelers are playing each other today.

It is the longest ongoing rivalry in all of football history. Since 1950, they have been the longest rivals ever.

I need two volunteers, if you are willing and brave enough to come forward.

I need a really, really avid Browns fan and a really avid Steelers fan. Can I get a Browns fan and a Steelers fan to come up here?

Raise your hand if you are brave enough.  

What are you?

I know Steelers!  Come on up.  Ha, ha, ha—Pittsburgh, I know Steelers.  

I was trying to be subtle about it, but I know you won’t be.  

And a Brown’s fan?

Come on up. Alright thank you.

Alright, here is the question.

Can Browns’ fans and Steelers’ fans get along?  

What I want you to do is hold this up and show this side and show that side. 

There are three ways that we can relate to each other. I am going to tie this into The Gospel at the end.  Okay?

We have abbreviations here.  P.A.C.– Parents, Adults, Child.

parent-adult-child

There are three different ways that they could talk to each other about Browns and Steelers.

One, they could talk like a parent and speak down to the other person as if they were a child.

Second, we can talk to him like he is an adult.

The Third way is John could be very childish, sometimes, and talk to him like he’s an out of control child.  

What Jesus wants us to do is talk adult-to-adult. We don’t often do that.  

Think about politics today, or Trump and Hillary.  

The difficult thing is to not get into this dynamic of talking down to somebody, or being childish, and talking up to somebody, but to actually act like an adult.  Talk at an adult level together at a very mature level.  That is what Jesus calls us to do — to be adults with each other.

The first thing I want you men to do is to give me an example of a very childish thing that you could say to the other person. Okay?

This could be insulting.  

What are your names? Kevin and John.  

Okay, John you are going to start with Pittsburgh.  What is a childish thing you could say?   

John: “How many Super Bowls have you won?”  

Father Mike:  Now say it like a child, “How many Super Bowls have YOU won?”

Alright, and now your response.  

Pretend you have this little child talking to you and you are going to act like a parent.  

What would you say back to him?  

How would you talk down to him? Like “Listen to me” or something…

Kevin:  “The Browns are horrible, so I don’t know.”  

Father Mike:  The Browns are horrible?  This isn’t a Browns fan!

He is honest. The Browns are horrible.

He might talk back to John and say “You have no right to talk to me like that!

We live in Cleveland!  You can’t talk to me like that.”  

Can you see how that’s a parent’s response to an adult, but treating him like he’s a child?  

Now, let’s say that you had a very childish response.  

Sometimes the dynamic is when we get attacked, then we become like children.  

We talk back like a child.  What might you say to a Steelers fan in a very childish way?

Kevin: “You are mean!”

Father Mike:  You are mean!

Okay. So no logic, for no actual reason, he just says, “You’re mean.”  

The tendency is, when someone acts like a child to us, and says “You’re just mean,” or “You’re a jerk,” you say something worse.  

What would a parent say back to a child to put them in their place? Can you think of an example?

How about, “How dare you talk to me like that!”  

You are going to come back like a parent and just slam them down.  

Now, I am not going to bring two people that are Trump or Hillary supporters, but the same thing could be done with them.  

The tendency is for one person to act like the parent and say, “You are totally wrong.  I can’t believe you are doing this!” and talk down to them.  The child is going to come back and say, “You’re mean. You’re hurting my feelings.”

The idea is to talk to each other like adults with everything.  Even if you have a child you have to try to talk to your child like an adult.  Sometimes you have to try to be adults with your parents instead of talking like children and having your parents talk down to you.

The thing is that we can, and we are called to speak at an adult level.

 The tendency though is to get into this parent-child dynamic. When somebody acts childish, we tend to act like a parent and come down to them. When somebody treats us like a parent and talks down to us, we tend to act childish and talk up to them.  

What we have to do—and only we are in control of it—is try to speak like an adult.  

Talk to them at an adult level.  Try to hook them from being a child or a parent, but keep them at an adult level.  

Let me have a round of applause for these two wonderful volunteers.

How do we speak not as a parent-child, but how do we speak as two mature adults?   

Jesus gives us the formula. He tells us that when your brother or sister sins, go first to that person.

What is a childish tendency?  

If somebody does something wrong, what is the childish tendency?  Go to mom or dad–right?   

Or if you are in a parish, go to the pastor–right?  

But the adult tendency that Jesus is laying out for us is go first to that person.  Go to that person and talk to them.  Don’t talk down to them.  Don’t talk up to them. Talk at an adult level to them.  

I have to say it takes a lot of courage to do that.  

When you actually do it in that manner, you might decide that maybe that issue is not that important.  You know, maybe I don’t really need to do it.

The first thing is to go to that person and talk to them about it.  It takes a very mature adult disciple to do that instead of going to their superior or going to someone else and talking to them.  That is the first step.  

The second step is that Jesus says if the person doesn’t listen to you, then find two or three like-minded people.

The two or three other people who are seeing the same problem and go to them, again, as adults—not talking down to them and not condemning them—but as adults. Really lifting them up and helping them to see what is going on and then talk to them.  

If that does not work then you can go to the pastor. You can go to the parent. You can go to the Church.  Jesus says then you go to the Church and deal with it, maybe with someone who has more wisdom.

If that does not work, that is when you can shake the dust from your shoes. But you do not start by shaking the dust from shoes.  

Jesus gives us a very adult way to do it.

The problem is that too often we act like the parent-child. He gives us a wonderful example of this. He says when two or three are gathered in my name about anything, God will grant them their request. He will be present to them.  

The difficult thing is that sometimes we are not gathered together in Jesus’ name.  

Sometimes we gather together to gossip about somebody or to condemn somebody or make fun of somebody. We gather together to make a scapegoat of somebody.

That is not in Jesus’ name.   

The only way to really make sure that we are gathered in His name is to make sure that we live an adult spirituality by going to the person first as an adult, then by gathering two or three people who are like-minded, then by bringing it to the Church.  Then, if necessary shaking the dust from your feet.  

The tendency is to act like a child.  

The tendency is to act like a parent and condemn or put somebody else down.

I just want you to think about this.  Who is the one person that you are struggling with right now so much?  

Just be aware of how you might be acting like a child or a parent and do your best to try to act like an adult and hook them too into acting like an adult. You can actually do it.  

Then the two of you will really have a God-like gathering.  Where you are doing God’s will as opposed to the enemy dividing.  

The biggest rivalry that has gone on before the Browns is the rivalry between Satan, the fallen angel, and God.

And ultimately God wants to bring us together as adults.

About the Author Fr. Michael Denk

Fr. Michael was ordained into priesthood in the Diocese of Cleveland on May 12, 2007. He is dedicated to helping others encounter Christ through the celebration of the Eucharist, preaching, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, spiritual direction, and prayer.

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I'm Father Michael J. Denk, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. I am a contributor of content to The Prodigal Father Productions, Inc., a non-profit corporation functioning in accord with the traditions and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The corporation and I are separate, it doesn't speak for me, the parish, or on behalf of the Diocese of Cleveland, and I do not speak for it.