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We Need Heroes

We need heroes. Where we do we find them?

The first question really is what is a hero? A hero as I see it is someone who does good deeds that we can look to as a role model.

When I think of heroes, I can’t help but think of superheroes with superpowers. When I was a kid in the 1970’s and 1980’s, superheroes were someone we could look up to. Yes, they had superpowers and that seemed awesome. They were also good people. Superman stood for truth, justice, and the American way. They were motivated by justice. They sought to do good. They were role models that we needed.

Yes, we couldn’t be exactly like them. We don’t have superpowers and we aren’t perfect but superheroes when I was a kid were an ideal to shoot for. Now, when I look at superheroes today, they still have superpowers but they aren’t role models. There may have been good intent to make they more like us but they no longer provide us with an ideal to shoot for.

Stepping away from the idea of heroes for a moment, I think some family shows on television have changed in similar ways. I don’t think families on television were ever perfect but they were good examples. The Brady kids and Beaver (Leave It to Beaver) got into trouble but they gave us a good example to shoot for. They were there for each other. Now, it seems some shows focus on negative families. This might seem more real to many people, but it doesn’t give us something to shoot for.

I think there are even people who see only the human side of Jesus and forget his divinity. Even his humanity as portrayed in the Bible gives us a great role model but people deny his good works and his teaching to be able to live the way they want. Remember the first reading on June 21, 2020 where Jeremiah’s former friends denounce him. I spoke in my homily that Sunday of how they tried to denounce him because he told them they were not living well in God’s eyes.

Jesus is the Son of God. He is both human and divine. In my Christmas homily in 2018, I spoke of his “superpower” to turn bread and wine into his Body and Blood to feed our souls. I spoke of how “super” it is that He died on the Cross so that our sins can be forgiven. I spoke of his love for us as “super” and said He is my hero. Jesus is my hero.

Jesus is awesome but where might we go for human heroes? Superheroes, even the ones who were good role models were fictional. The Brady family and Beaver on “Leave It to Beaver” were fictional characters. Where do we find real heroes for our faith?

The saints.

The saints didn’t always live perfect lives but they turned to Jesus.

St. Augustine of Hippo was a sinner until his conversion in the late fourth century that came after his mother, St. Monica, had prayed for years for him to become Christian. After his conversion, he became a bishop and doctor of the church.

St. Francis of Assisi, perhaps one of the most popular saints, sought pride and prestige in earthly endeavors before his conversion. St. Ignatius of Loyola sought prestige in the military before his conversion after which he became the founder of the Jesuits.

What about married saints? There is Sts. Isidore (patron saint of farmers) and Maria Torribia. There are Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of St. Therese.

Looking for twentieth century saints we can learn about St. Oscar Romero who was martyred in 1980 in San Salvador, St. “Mother Teresa” who leaved her own country and served the poor, founding the Missionaries of Charity, and St. John Paul II, who lived through World War II and communist times. These are our role models of what it means to follow Jesus.

Who is your hero as you strive to follow Jesus?

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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