The Olympic Games help awaken in us the desire for this city, what Christian thinkers such as Augustine called "the city of God." In the Christian story, the tragedy of the human condition is that each of us is forced to live outside of this celestial home.
We are cut off from the grace and beauty and love of God. We may view his city from afar, but we cannot enter. We may think we belong there, but we are treated as strangers.
This sense of alienation and longing is hinted at in other religious traditions: in Buddhism's attempt to escape the cycle of suffering, for example, or in Islam's description of paradise, where the righteous "shall have all that they desire." Each admits that something has gone terribly wrong in our world.
In the Christian hope, man's tragic plight is overcome by God himself. We are given a promise that God would take on human frailty and make a way back to his sacred city. "I will bring them back to this land," God announced through the prophet Jeremiah. "They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart."
Is it possible that every time we rise to applaud our Olympic champions, we anticipate this final homecoming?
If so, then Olympic glory is a faint picture of divine glory: to be welcomed back into the heart of God, accepted, approved, honored and blessed.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Joseph Loconte.