Date: Sunday, October 06, 2019
Early Saturday morning I was listening to Classical Music on the radio. I perked up when I recognized the opening notes to be a movie score by John Williams – Superman! A comic book hero coming to life on the big screen. It is amazing how we are fascinated by “superheroes” from Superman to Wonder Woman – human beings or interstellar visitors to our planet who have extraordinary abilities and do exceptional things, like, “bend steel in his bare hands, leap over tall buildings…it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s superman.” Strangely, when we come across a human being who has risked her or his life to save others, that person does not see him/herself as a hero. They often respond: “I did what I had to do” or “I was not alone – others helped.” We see this attitude exemplified in J.R. Tolkien’s “Fellowship of the Ring”, the heroes of “middle earth” are the little folk, the Hobbits – Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Mary.
In our Gospel, the apostles are asking Jesus “to increase our faith.” Are they hoping to acquire more power to do marvelous things like Jesus? Jesus replies that it is not a matter of quantity but quality. “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Don’t be misled. Jesus is not suggesting “faith” is for doing the spectacular for he goes on to give an illustration of what he means. “Would you say to a servant coming in from plowing and tending sheep, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table?’” You would expect the servant to do his household chores and then eat. Jesus is saying to his apostles you are not in this for reward and recognition but for service.
On Tuesday, October 1, we celebrated the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux. She entered a Carmelite Convent in Normandy, France at the age of 15 and died at the age of 24. She once wrote a play for the nuns and starred in it as the French heroine St. Joan of Arc. Maybe it is in all of us to be a super hero. Therese did none of the things that superheroes do but she is remembered for doing every day, simple things, with love. Her spiritual autobiography “The Story of a Soul” has been read by thousands of people around the world who have found in Therese the path of holiness. Therese saw herself always as a child of God and discovered her vocation was charity -- the personal and universal will of God. She understood the point that Jesus was making with his apostles: At the end of the day when all things are said and done, we remain God's faithful servants doing what we are obliged to do.