Saturday, March 31, 2007

Up, Up and Away!

Come on, America, you know you love Superman. You know you want to fly, be impervious to pain, have the strength of will to always seek the Good. I love the fact that the Man in Blue is back, and however the film turns out (we'll see it in 46 hours and 19 minutes, or... Saturday), I'm sure the iconic qualities about the son of Jor-El will be clear as crystal. He's Christological! No denying it! How 'bout this line from the new film's teaser trailer: The voice of Marlon Brando, Superman's father from the 1978 film: "Even though you've been raised as a human being you are not one of them. They can be a great people Kal-El. They wish to be, they only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son." Wow. Now, this rather explicit typology is stirring up the anger of a few people in the secular press. They are upset that this comic icon is being morphed with "religion." To which I respond, how could it not? We are a fallen race, a wounded band of travellers in a world that is dying, and we long for redemption. We seek Truth though all we see here is mingled with lies. We want the Good, though all we see here is compromised with evil. We pant after a Beauty that is infinite, though all we taste here is destined to decay. So we create myths and stories and fairy tales with superhuman characters that can lift us up out of our own weakness.But the Gospel is the true fairy tale. Here God steps into Our Story, and beyond our wildest dreams, he becomes one of us. And this is the best part! Jesus is not a Man of Steel, but a Man of Flesh.... a Man of Sorrows....
Jesus vs Superman? Remember the debates we had as kids (I suppose this was more a boy thing. Ladies?) "Who could beat who in a contest... Batman or Spiderman, Torch or Iceman, Aqua Man or Green Lantern?" Who the heck is Green Lantern anyway? Invariably, some kid would bring up Superman and the debate was over. Come on, no fair! He's SUPERMAN! Well, fine. He is super, but here's where the Gospel has these guys beat. It's the true fairy tale. God really steps into Our Story, and beyond our wildest dreams, he becomes one of us. Jesus is not a Man of Steel, but a Man of Flesh! A Man of Sorrows... and this is exactly how he saves us, not by deflecting bullets off of his chest, but by taking them right into his heart. He is the Pierced One, and as St. Bernard says "The piercing nail has become a key to unlock the door, that I may see the good will of the Lord. And what can I see as I look through the hole? Both the nail and the wound cry out that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself… Through these sacred wounds we can see the secret of his heart, the great mystery of love…" - St. Bernard Throughout history, many have fallen into the trap of seeing Jesus as a kind of superman, impervious to suffering. Sure, he died for us to save us, but he was GOD. How could he feel pain? For the answer to that one, let's read Isaiah 53: He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem. Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, While we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all. Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.
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