When I was about six or seven years old I loved Superman. I wanted to be Superman. One day I made a cape out of a bath towel, climbed up on my twin bed next the window, grabbed the string attached to the curtain rod, tied it to the belt loop on the back of my jeans, and jumped off the bed expecting to be suspended in the air so I could “fly” like Superman. Unfortunately, the belt loop ripped from my jeans and I belly flopped onto the bedroom floor. No super powers for me.
What’s your favorite super power? Flying? Super strength? Invisibility? Wouldn’t it be great to have a super power?
Steve Rogers was the proto-typical 98-pound weakling. He had a brave and heroic spirit, but physically there’s just not much to him. Steve was selected to take part in a secret government experiment. He was injected with Super-Soldier Serum and subjected to Vita-Rays. Steve was transformed into Captain America, a super soldier with super strength.
When we receive the sacraments we go through a transformation more amazing, more powerful, and certainly more real than the fictional Steve Rogers. God infuses us with his grace and if we could see with spiritual eyes we would understand that we’ve be changed in mighty ways. We may go into the waters of baptism, into the confessional, or up to the altar feeling weak and broken, but we come away transformed by grace.
In Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger it’s interesting that the new and improved Captain America doesn’t immediately go off to war. Instead he finds himself touring with the USO drumming up support for war bonds. He engages in stage performances in which he beats up cartoonish caricatures of Hitler and the Nazis. It becomes apparent that his new power and strength aren’t being put to the best use.
I know that I waste opportunities of grace, do you? The very same Holy Spirit that brought about the creation of the world and raised Christ from the dead is living in me, and too often I find it a struggle just to turn off the TV and pray; let alone actually going out into the world and putting my spiritual muscles to work by loving and caring for those in need. Does that sound familiar?
We have been given real, true super powers. We have the ability to bring the love and power of Jesus Christ to a hurting and dying world. We have been given the Holy Spirit and all of his gifts to build up the Church and those around us. I need, we need, to resolve to step up into that role of the spiritual superhero. We must dare to be saints. In the words of St. John Paul II:
“Dear young people, the Church needs genuine witnesses for the new evangelization: men and women whose lives have been transformed by meeting with Jesus, men and women who are capable of communicating this experience to others. The Church needs saints. All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity. Many have gone before us along this path of Gospel heroism, and I urge you to turn often to them to pray for their intercession.”