My wife and I were visiting our daughter's at their college football game this month. It was a great 59 minutes of football for the home team, until a Hail Mary pass in the last ten seconds gave victory to the other side. This was a surprising and disappointing experience, but it made me think about why we call it a "Hail Mary" pass.
I decided to find out. The term originated in 1922 with the Notre Dame Football players praying a Hail Mary before each touchdown in a game that they won, upsetting their rivals. A Hail Mary pass has come to mean a low probability forward pass completed far from the end zone in desperation close to the end of the half.
The idea of the Hail Mary play is that we turn in prayer when the odds are against us, when it is urgent and when this action is our only hope. What is our "Hail Mary play" in ministry? When we think about youth and families today, what is urgent? Who are the most vulnerable people who are working against all odds? Where do we need to direct our energy?
Today, I am going to pray a Hail Mary before I start my day of ministry. I am going to ask Mary to help me listen to Jesus and let him show me the way. It should be so natural to hope in the face of insurmountable challenges; it's what faith calls me to do. Where will I spend my time, attention, energy? What direction will I go? Loving God, give me courage, strength and hope to let it soar!