I must confess that I like superhero movies, and for as long as I can remember I have wanted superpowers. I never could settle on exactly what power to have, that was too limiting, but I certainly wanted the power to stare down the barrel of a gun and smile at the goon holding his weapon, because the goon thinks I’m weak and defenseless and doesn’t realize I have….(whisper voice:) superpowers.
I think my desire to have these powers is why superhero films disappoint me; the movies make being a hero not only unreachable but practically revolting. I can already rule out being spawned by aliens, neither am I going to undergo some bizarre scientific experiment that gives me freakish abilities with no side-effects, except for the unavoidable side-effect of being a freak. The only other option is to become a billionaire and build myself an uber-weapon supersuit, which is never going to happen.
I had decided to give up on the idea of being a superhero, until I read Archbishop Chaput’s closing homily for the Fortnight for Freedom, delivered to an overflow crowd of some 5000 people at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Suddenly it was all so outrageously clear to me: its the easiest thing in the world to be a superhero, it’s just a matter of being adopted by God and given godlike powers.
This is the way Archbishop Chaput described true freedom:
True freedom knows no attachments other than Jesus Christ. It has no love of riches or the appetites they try to satisfy. True freedom can walk away from anything — wealth, honor, fame, pleasure. Even power. It fears neither the state, nor death itself.
Yes! That’s it! That is the superpower I want to have, because it would make me totally invincible to every power on earth, without turning me into a circus freak show. Why didn’t I think of this before?
All the goons always play the same game. The goons in suits come and offer you a private island, or a satchel full of money. The stacks of money get higher and higher until they reach the point where you can’t turn it down. What if you could look at six trillion dollars and say: “Don’t you realize I’m a Christian, and my Heavenly Father gives me everything I need?”
Then they send a woman of preposterous proportions who promises that you can have her as long as you give her something, whatever it is, that she is demanding. What if you could laugh and say, “Don’t you realize I’m a Christian, and I have been promised eternal paradise? Whatever you can do is like crumbs on the floor to me.” (By the way, for the women reading this, they will promise to make you look like her).
Then they send goons to beat you up, to break all your bones, to torment you. What if you could smile at those goons and say, “Jesus suffered on the cross for me, I’m very happy to be suffering for Him.”
Then they will point a gun in your face, or a howitzer, or a death ray. What if you could look at the goon with the gun and say “Don’t you realize I’m a Christian, and I don’t mind being killed because you will end my problems and send me to God, which is where I want to be anyway?”
Then they will grab your children (or your wife or your father), and announce that your loved ones will suffer and die unless you give them what they want. What if you could look at them and say, “Don’t you realize I’m a Christian, and I already baptized all my children? If you kill them you will send them to God, and they will be happier than they could ever be on earth.”
Then they will set up a nuclear weapon or a nerve gas attack, and threaten to destroy the whole city and everyone in it, unless you sell yourself to them and do exactly what they want, which is something terrible because if they wanted something good there would be no need to threaten you. What if you could look at weapon as it counts down to zero [5...4...3....2.....] and say, “Don’t you realize that God is Lord of life and death, and your bomb won’t explode unless He gives His permission? I’m a Christian and it is easier for me to see this city destroyed than to do anything that would offend my God.”
Then they tell you that they are going to enslave the whole world, and every person in it, and turn them all into zombies, unless you give them everything they are demanding. What if you could say, “Jesus already died to set the whole world free, and the only people who can truly be enslaved now are the ones who don’t accept Him”?
Jesus Christ offers us this kind of total freedom, freedom to walk away from anything, freedom to refuse the “offer you can’t refuse”, freedom to endure every possible suffering with His help. We only have to be willing to sacrifice our life and every pleasure in this world, and we can become invincible with godlike power. It certainly seems much easier than going though some dubious scientific experiment. If I really live my faith with my whole heart, then I will be able to look down the barrels of all the guns in the world and smile, because the goons behind the guns have failed to realize that they are trying to kill a man who has already died to self and lives in Christ +
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