My grandson Noah is 5 years old. He loves superheroes, like Spiderman, Superman, and Iron Man. We were in the car the other day and a song came on the radio – Piano Man by Billy Joel. I told him, “Hey – you know this song!” He asked, “What is it?” I answered, “Piano Man.” His response was: “Is he a superhero?” And I said, “Yes, yes he is.” Here’s to Billy Joel, Piano Man and superhero.
As Christians, we are superheroes. We have superpowers. Our superpowers are the supernatural gifts given to us by God to fulfill our purpose in life.
Let me tell you about some real-life superheroes I have known and their superpowers.
My sister Dorothy is a superhero. She has an adult son who was in a serious car accident that resulted in traumatic brain injury. He was in the hospital for a year, near death many times from infection. She decided to bring him home and manage his care there. Everyone said it was a bad idea – the doctors, the hospital, many family members. She knew it would be difficult. But God was calling her to do this very hard thing, and so she did. People who have traumatic brain injury are expected to live another 7 years. Brian is still alive over 20 years later. Dorothy is a superhero. Her superpower is courage.
My friend Stephen is a superhero. He heard God calling him to go to Haiti years ago when the earthquake hit. He was in his 60s at the time. He told someone he admired that he was going to Haiti to help with disaster relief. Stephen’s friend gave him many good reasons not to go: there was no power, no water, no place to stay, and Steve was a bit old to be living like that. Wouldn’t it be better to just make a financial donation? Steve said no. He was certain God was calling him to be a missionary to Haiti. And he did it. He made many trips there and then expanded his ministry to Uganda. He has built wells, schools, homes for the elderly, orphanages, and more. Stephen is a superhero. His superpower is obedience.
My friend, Bill Rogers, was a superhero. He passed away several years ago. Bill was very active at church, always helping out in whatever was needed. I once had not left the kitchen as I should have after an event and he corrected me in the most gentle but firm way. Lots of people can tell you what you’re doing wrong, but most don’t do it with as much grace as Bill did. He was a superhero. He had the supernatural gift of fraternal correction.
My friend Linda is a superhero. She is always listening to the Holy Spirit. When He tells her to pray for or over someone, she does. When she hears something that contradicts Catholic teaching, she’s not afraid to speak up and clarify that teaching. When He calls her to do something she doesn’t feel qualified for – and He has – she says yes. Linda is a superhero. She has the supernatural gift of prophecy – that means speaking God’s truth – and faith in following God’s prompting in her life.
My sister Mary and her husband Quintin are superheroes. Two years ago they started hosting a weekly, family-friendly Friday dinner and game night. They provide the main course and people bring side dishes. The group may have been small in the beginning, but now they have 50-70 people for dinner every week. The cost of groceries keeps increasing, and as the numbers increased, they wondered how long they could afford to continue. Even so, they kept going every Friday without knowing where the money would come from. God provided the funds, and He continues to do that. Mary and Quintin are superheroes. They have the superpower of trust in God’s providence.
My friend Kris-Ann is a lawyer specializing in juvenile court cases. This kind of work can be heartbreaking because you see the worst of people and the impact their actions have on innocent children. The cases touch her deeply as a human person and as a mother. Yet she knows God has called her to this work. Kris-Ann is a superhero. She has the superpower of fortitude, which helps her keep going when she sees great suffering.
My mother is a superhero. She raised 11 children and never raised her voice. That may seem hard to believe, but it’s true. She embraced life, welcoming each new baby – just about one every year. She stands up for life, praying for an end to abortion, attending the life chain every October, encouraging young mothers who are trying to manage their little ones at Mass. Mom is a superhero. She has lots of superpowers, including patience and holy boldness in standing up for the dignity of all human life.
My father was a superhero. At the age of 40 he stopped drinking and studied for his GED while working full-time to support the family. Then he went to college and ended up with a Masters in Social Work. He was ordained a Catholic deacon and served for 30 years in that role. Dad totally transformed his life. He truly became a new man. Dad was a superhero. His superpower was surrendering to God’s plan for his life and fearlessly walking that path.
My friend Melinda is a superhero. She is a hospice nurse and cared for my Dad in his final months. She walks with people near the end of life and isn’t afraid to talk with them about God, to give them hope as they end this life and prepare for the next. It takes a lot to care for someone you love as they are dying, and she did that for my father. The morning that he died, she cleaned things up and then left the family. I left shortly after her and found her and her husband at the elevator. She was weeping in his arms, crying for my dad. She never showed her pain to our family, even though she felt it very deeply. Melinda is a superhero. She has the superpowers of strength and compassion and faith.
All of these people are superheroes, and I could go on with many more stories. The truth is that you are a superhero, and so am I. We all have supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Paul wrote about the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians. All baptized Christians have spiritual gifts. We could have more gifts if we opened our hearts to what the Holy Spirit wants to do in us. We have to seek a deeper relationship with God. We have to spend time with Him. We have to ask Him to reveal our gifts to us – because maybe we have them but just don’t realize it.
We’re just like Spiderman, Superman, Iron Man, and Piano Man. Embrace your superhero status. Use your superpowers. No matter how insignificant you think you are, you can change the world because that’s what God calls you to do.
Questions for prayer:
- Who are the superheroes in your life? What superpowers do you see in them?
- What are your own superpowers? How are you using them? What, if anything is holding you back?