(I recently happened to catch a re-run of the movie 'Superman Returns' on Channel 5 last Mon - I say 'happened' cos' I was supposed to have a dinner appointment that evening which got cancelled last minute, leaving me at home with nothing else to do. But you know how things don't just 'happen' with God around, and somehow that evening, my super-senses prompted me that He WANTED me to watch the movie again...)
"Why The World Doesn't Need Superman"
...is the title of Lois Lane's editorial that won her a Pulitzer Prize in the movie. She probably wrote it as a response to Superman's sudden disappearance, literally from the face of the earth, for more than 5 years, leaving the rest of the world staring into the sky waiting, hoping and praying for his return. She probably wrote it as a defiant act of denial so that the rest of the world, but more so that she, could deal with the disappointment of his disappearance and move on in life. My next guess is that she probably wrote it, because deep down inside, she wished that the world wouldn't need Superman so that she could have the man she once and maybe still loved so deeply all to herself.
Since my decision to leave, not the face of the earth, but my girlfriend, and all my dreams and ideals of marriage, in order to enter the seminary as a response to God's apparent call to the priesthood, I have not been spared of moments from time to time where I try to write my own editorial in my mind with a similar title: 'Why the World Doesn't Need Me'. As my own defiant act of denial, I would often wish to remain just an ordinary citizen, to be with the girl I once (and maybe still) loved with all my heart, and just spend the rest of my years flying her across the seas and bringing her to the moon and back. I would try to find excuses for myself, proclaiming that there were plenty of men out there more worthy than I was to be His priest.
Superman (to Lois Lane): "You wrote that the world doesn't need a saviour, but I hear them crying for one everyday."
Yet no matter how hard I try to convince myself the world doesn't need me, I can't help hearing their cries for help, can't help seeing the rest of the world staring into the skies waiting, hoping and praying for relief from their miserable, painful, unbearable situations in life. Everytime God sends someone in need into my path, something within me just automatically responds by reaching out to the person, and trying my best to journey with and help the person through whatever difficulty he or she is facing. Everytime God does something incredible through me for someone else, in ways that I could never imagine myself doing without His help, I would be totally in awe and affirmed of the life God is calling me to. Somehow, though my love for my once true love was strong, my love for the world seems to be growing stronger each day that I can't possibly bring myself to throw all that away just for my own selfish desires.
Lex Luthor: "Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don't share their power with mankind. No, I don't want to be a God. I just want to bring fire to the people. And I want my cut."
If Superman was really selfish, he would be using his given power for his own selfish reasons and purposes. (I know what many guys would do with X-ray vision.) Instead, he used his power for the good of mankind, to help those who were less fortunate. Contrary to what Lex Luthor exclaims, Superman did more than share his power with mankind. He shared his very life to the world. Deep down I am sure he wanted to spend all his days flying Lois across seas and bringing her to the moon and back. But instead, he made the more difficult decision to stay true to his greater calling and purpose, to give up a life he could have spent with Lois, and to give up his life for the world that needed him.
In the same way, I have come to realise and accept that all the gifts and blessings I have received in my life were not earned by my own efforts, nor were they just for my own selfish gain. They were God-given gifts freely given to me to be used in service for His people. I would be the selfish one if I were to keep all these gifts to myself, and fly around in my little red cape and living the life I want, without any care to share these gifts with the world.
Yet, I have often asked myself why can't I still share my gifts with the world while still being in love with the love of my life? And that's where the movie struck a chord, when I realised how easily Superman could have just decided to kick Lois' fiance out of her life, to be the man both of them would have wanted, and maybe compromise by giving half his time to saving the world, and the other half to Lois and her son. But, he didn't. And I suppose he realised something that I am slowly trying to accept - that the world doesn't need Superman just half of the time, or most of the time, but all of the time. And Superman will never be the person the world needs if he were to dedicate a part of his life to Lois.
God is not asking me just to share my gifts and talents. He is asking me to share and give ALL of my life to Him, in the purpose that He created me for, in my case and in the case of Superman - to live in service not just to someone, but to the entire world.
Superman (to Jason asleep in his bed): "You will be different, sometimes you'll feel like an outcast, but you'll never be alone. You will make my strength your own. You will see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father and the father becomes the son."
Yet despite all the good I see God doing in me and through me, I do often feel left out at times, when couples enjoy the romance of courtship I once used to enjoy, when fellow peers get to have the dream wedding I once wished to have, when couples express their love and commitment towards each other in ways I once aspired to work towards. These often become difficult times for me to endure and face, until I slowly learnt to turn to my Father in heaven, to make His strength my own, to see my life through His eyes. I recall how I am not alone each time I think of the terrible ordeal Jesus went through too as a persecuted, ridiculed, scourged and finally cruxified outcast. And though Jesus Himself wished His cup be taken away from Him, he eventually submitted Himself to the will of the Father. And these words of His continue to strengthen me in my daily battle: "...the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed." (John 5:19-20)
"Why the World Doesn't Need Jesus"
...is the title of the editorial many people in the world write in their heads. Some write it probably as a response to the daily suffering they witness in the world today, so that they can deal with the disappointment of the apparent disappearance of God in the world and move on in life. Some write it as a defiant act of denial, thinking that they are better off without a God that seems to want to control their lives. Some write it probably because they want to have their lives all to themself, without having to submit it to Christ and to do His will - which can often seem demanding, difficult and full of suffering.
Yet, no matter what millions write in their heads, the fact is that a different editorial has already been written in the hearts of all of us even before we were born. This editorial expresses our very nature made in the image and likeness of God. This editorial speaks of our deep yearning and desire to be one with our Creator, to receive the very nature of love that we were made of, made from the very nature of the Holy Trinity. In each of our hearts, conscious or unconscious, we are crying out each and every day for the Return of Jesus our Saviour deep in our hearts. And it is this desperate desire for Christ in our hearts that leave us empty, unfulfilled, restless, unsatisfied in the long-run no matter how many achievements we try to obtain, how many material goods we try to possess, how many successes we try to clamour after.
Our world is in need of Jesus, whether we like it or not. Yet, it is only when we acknowledge our need for Jesus in our life, will we then discover the powers that were already given to us before we were born that allow us to share in the glory and joy of Christ. And once we see the power of Jesus working in our lives, will we then discover our greater calling of sharing this power with the rest of the world. And once we begin to be aware of the cries for help of the world today, will we then realise our call to be the Jesus that the world needs today.
The world needs us to be Jesus to all in whatever capacity God has called and prepared us for - priest, religious, married couple, single - it is up to us to return to the Father, so that we may allow the Father to return to our hearts, and help us rediscover our greater purpose and calling, not just to serve our own needs, for also for the needs of the world.
May this season of Advent be a time we can be more conscious of the world today looking up in the sky for the saviour in us to respond to the world's needs and cries for help, so that we may be more motivated to open our hearts to the Lord, and anticipate with eagerness, hope and joy for the upcoming...