33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle C
Mal 3:19-20a; Psalm Ps 98:5-6, 7-8, 9; 2 Thes 3:7-12; Gospel: Lk 21:5-19
One of my favorite movies of all time is Pixar’s Animated Film “The Incredibles”. It is the story of a family of superhero’s who are trying to lead ordinary lives, concealing their secret identities and super powers. This family was started when Mr. Incredible (who has incredible strength) and Elastigirl (who has incredible flexibility) fall in love, get married and raise a family. They are forced into concealing their super-powers and have to live a life pretending to be normal humans.
Am I a Secret Christian Superhero?
I think that some of us Christian’s here can relate to this because we live in a world that wants us to pretend that we are not Christians. The readings today call us to examine the way we are leading our lives and to ask the question – Am I conforming my life to the way God wants me to live it or am I living my life the way the World wants me to live?
Addicted to Justice
Mr. Incredible has a problem, which is that he is addicted to justice. Even though doing the right thing has gotten him into trouble, he still sneaks out in the middle of the night with his superhero friend “Frozone” and they save people in trouble.
I think that we all share Mr. Incredible’s addiction to justice – we all have an intuitive sense of right and wrong, and we all get irritated when we witness injustice.
What is Justice?
Justice is acting in a way that reveals God’s love to the world.
[[ REPEAT THIS DEFINITION WITH A PAUSE SO IT SINKS IN ]]
The boss and the mugger
There is a scene in the movie where Mr. Incredible’s boss is meeting with him and a man who is mugged right outside the office. Mr. Incredible finds himself conflicted between his need to catch the mugger, and his need to have this job to provide for his family. He ends up resolving this inner conflict by punching out his boss after the mugger gets away.
Ask the Question – How is God’s love revealed by my actions?
This is why we need the definition of justice; it helps us to evaluate our actions to see if they are going to be good or bad. When we recognize that we are in conflict, we need to ask ourselves the question – how is God’s love revealed through this action?
Superhero’s confront Injustice
Whenever Mr. Incredible catches a bad guy he is always taking time to speak to the reporters about the crook he caught. He is pointing out to the community an injustice that needs correcting. If only Mr. Incredible could do this with his own actions then those situations too might be resolved with charity.
What is Injustice?
If Justice is acting in a way that reveals God’s love to the world than injustice is acting in a way that obscures God’s love in the world.
[[REPEAT FOR EFFECT - PAUSE]]
Lying to cover firing – Helping his nemesis
After he punches out his boss Mr. Incredible gets fired from his job. Unwittingly he is hired by his nemesis, an evil scientist named Syndrome who uses him to perfect his superhero killing robot.
To cover up for getting fired he lies to his wife, giving her the impression that he was promoted when in reality he was fired. He moonlights as a superhero and she thinks that he is having an affair. He gets trapped, and it seems that there is no way out.
How do we fall into the Injustice Trap - Malachi
We too can fall into the Injustice trap. In the first Reading the prophet Malachi says “Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch”
Two will be burned – Evildoers and the Proud
Did you notice that there are two kinds of people who will be burned away in that last day? They are evildoers and those who are proud.
How do Christians become evil-doers?
First, we might say – “God loves me and He won’t worry about my little faults here or there”. This is wrong because we think that we can earn our way into heaven without paying attention to what is inside our hearts.
How are we guilty of pride?
The other way is for us to think that we have already made it and we don’t need to do any works because we are here in the Church. This is the sin of pride because our actions do not reflect what our faith teaches.
Sin is like burning garbage
What is behind both of these actions is sin. Sin is like a garbage heap that spontaneously combusts. Have you ever smelt burning trash? It reeks and stinks, and burns itself away to nothing. When we allow sin to persist in our lives that is what it does to our souls. Sin corrodes and destroys us until nothing is left but our own self-consuming anger. This is the kind of fire that is used to describe hell – the place where unrepentant sinners end up.
God’s love is a purifying fire.
Earlier in this same chapter Malachi speaks of God’s love being like fire as well. He uses the image of God’s love being like fire purifying silver – burning off the sin and corruption and leaving our soul as God created us to be – beautiful and precious in his sight.
When we repent we expose ourselves to the purifying fire of God’s love. That fire burns away the sin in our lives so that we become purely who God created us to be. God’s purifying fire allows his love to be revealed to the world through our actions. This is the witness of all of those Christian superheroes we call the Saints – like Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
How do we escape from the trap? By becoming People of action
Mr. Incredible gets caught both by his nemesis Syndrome and his wife Elastigirl. He does not get stuck because he remains a man of action. It is the actions of Mr. Incredible, of his wife and his family that ultimately free him and save a whole bunch of other people from Syndrome’s evil schemes. God often uses our family and friends to reach out to us and save us when we are trapped in sin.
Choose to be a Superhero!
We too are called to be Christian Superheroes because we are called to be women and men of action. This means that we
- That we ask the Holy Spirit for the gift to see how God’s love needs to be revealed in each situation of each day.
- That we ask the Holy Spirit to point out where our actions are obscuring God’s love in the world. Ask Him to make us aware of the temptation to sin.
And Take action
- Examine our lives for injustice. When we find it – confess it!
- Reach out to someone with charity this week. Maybe it is a family member who you have hurt, or a friend at work or school, or maybe it is someone who has fallen on hard times.
This is how Christ invites us to prepare for the Kingdom of Heaven.