September 23, 2018 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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I am a big fan of the Avengers and the Justice League Super Hero movies. I can’t say who my favorite is because they all are. At some point in my childhood, I pretended to be both the Avengers and the Justice League Super heroes. For each task I would encounter when I was young, like running up the street for an errand for my mother, or playing ball with the neighbors, or hiking in the woods, or doing chores like cutting the grass or raking leaves, there was a super hero for me to become in order to make the chore seem easier in my head or at least have some fun pretending I could have the hammer of Thor to work in my dad’s garden or fix the stone wall behind our house, or chop wood with my father.

As I was praying and researching some ideas for this article I ran across a blog about super heroes. The article revealed that only one Super Hero lived in the “moral center of the Marvel Universe.” The article said that Captain America and Iron Man both exemplified two poles of ethics. Captain America never did anything wrong and followed orders. Iron Man had personal issues and made shady decisions for the common good. Both were fighting for good but clashed as their self-righteousness or ego got in the way of working together as a team. This dichotomy is similar to the struggle between Batman and Superman in their latest movies. The article gives all the applause to Spiderman. Spiderman takes care of his aunt, marries his High School Sweetheart, and struggles to balance work, family, and superhero stuff. The article reveals that Spiderman seeks the advice of others, isn’t arrogant in his works, and is the only one who prays. After reading this, I might be in awe of the super powers, but I’m going to be better friends with Spiderman. Maybe that’s why his slogan is: “your neighborhood friendly Spiderman.”

Spiderman is a young person in the current Marvel Movies. And he is the only one who shows signs of fear. But in his fear of the unknown he trusts that he is on a right path even if it goes against the majority or the current culture. And always in the end he seems to restore hope. He listens to the ones who are in charge even when what is about to happen isn’t pretty or easy but life threatening and dangerous all for the good of others. None of the super heroes fight against evil in order to achieve power or be put on a pedestal. They do it because they have accepted their vocation to fight against evil because it’s the right thing to do.

Since the beginning of time, people have had to deal with and live in fear based upon what others say or think or do. Story after story in scripture and in life people make choices based on fear. Our actions of power and control that lead to wars on a global level and on a personal level are rooted in some form of fear. When a child is separated from their mother or father they cry out in fear. But when a child is then picked up or fed by the parents they loose the fear. So many of us have said that our parents are our heroes. For me it is because I witnessed my parent’s struggle in the face of adversity and get through life’s storms. I saw my father and mother win over fear because it was not an option for them to choose. When you grow up in the depression or in difficult times faced with life or death, fear is present but not an option. My parents became my heroes not because they resembled a fictitious super hero, but because they resembled Jesus who takes away my fears?

In today’s 1st readings the wicked are using fear to speak against the just one. This is so true today. Young people in schools are faced with bullying, fitting in, peer pressure in so many ways, and we as Catholic Christians are to stand up against the wicked of today who are gossiping, using the weapon of the tongue so that they can make themselves feel good. How could the just one not feel any fear in the face of these conditions? But those who don’t have faith in the God of love who upholds our lives in the face of fear, choose the ways of the wicked, because those ways feed our passions that are connected to our ego not our souls. And that as stated in the second reading is selfish and leads us down the wrong path.

In the Gospel reading Jesus tells the apostles of the adversity and the danger that’s ahead. But they aren’t listening. In the previous verses of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus healed the sick, was transfigured, and performed other miracles. The apostles don’t’ want to hear about death. They are at the top of their game. They saw being associated with Jesus as a position of power where they were in charge and their ego got in the way as they became deaf to what Jesus was telling them.

With the crisis today in the Church based upon the abuse of power over others, there is a lot of fear and so we need both laity and clergy to become real living human heroes. Hero for me stands for: Healing Empathetically Restoring Others. I think we can interchange the word “saint” for “hero” in this situation. I believe we are called to be a hero on earth so that all people can become saints in heaven. This transformation occurs when we are face to face with a choice to either live in fear and be controlled by it or have the courage to stand up against those whose selfish ambitions are for power and control. I’m tired of the fear. How about you? Are you ready to be a hero and a saint?

I’m tired of living in the fear of a broken heart
I’m tired of the fear of those who hold power over me
I’m tired of the fear of being abused
I’m tired of fearing what others think
I’m tired of the fear of not being liked
I’m tired of the fear of not living up to the expectations of the status quo
I’m tired of the fear of addressing those who are more concerned about the letter of
the law and the “how” we do things instead of the “why” we do things in all aspects of
the church and life.
I’m tired of the fear of loosing
I’m tired of the fear of speaking up for what I know is right in my heart against those
in places of power
I’m tired of the fear of standing up for the oppressed because the oppressors can ruin
me if I speak out against them.
I’m tired of the fear of breaking toxic relationships that lead me away from God and who
I am called to be.
I’m tired of the fear….
I am ready to be a hero and follow Jesus
Fear is not an option for me

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