Be the Everyday Superhero

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Column by Jonathan Nagy
Director of Admissions and Teacher at Bishop Carroll Catholic High School

“Heroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary.” – Gerard Way 

I love movies!  I am always excited to see a new movie in the theater, discover a movie on television that I have not seen yet, or even revisit one of my favorite movies in my collection.  There are some movies that I could watch over and over again and never tire of seeing.  Sometimes I can get lost ‘a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’, or reliving a childhood dream of seeing a real, live, dinosaur, or even opening doors to Narnia.  But lately, I have found myself being pulled towards superhero movies.

There are so many great superheroes out there, and everyone has their favorite.  Popular superheroes include Superman, Spiderman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Captain America.  Each of these extraordinary beings have been enhanced somehow, whether from science or technology, or just possess superpowers.

My all-time favorite superhero, though, is Ironman, and for reasons often overlooked.  I am not alone in liking Tony Stark’s alter-ego, but the reason I like him is because he possesses no extraordinary powers.  He has not been genetically enhanced.  Ironman is a flawed individual, who made mistakes in his past, has found redemption, and uses the abilities given to him to help others.  To me, that is extraordinary, and we need real-world heroes like him.

I recently did a Google search to find out if the word ‘hero’ appeared anywhere in the Bible. The simple answer is no, it does not.  The word was not coined until the 1300s, long after
the Bible had been written.  But upon further exploration, it is there, and has been mistranslated many times!  The Hebrew word ‘gibor’ appears 45 times in the Bible.  The definition of that word is ‘mighty, hero.’  Therefore, when the word ‘mighty’ has appeared, it could theoretically be substituted for hero.  Take one of the most famous New Testament verses, Luke 1:49.  This verse is part of the base of the Magnificat, or the prayer that Mary said when visited by the angel Gabriel.  She said, “For the mighty one has done great deeds for me, and holy is His name.”  Now substitute the word ‘hero’ for ‘mighty one’ and think of God as that ultimate superhero!

Even more relatable to us than our Heavenly Father is His son, Jesus.  Jesus was born a human, just like all of us.  He experienced human emotions, human illness, and human difficulties. While he performed many miracles while on earth (and still continues to do so), many of what I would consider his ‘hero moments’ include things that each and every one of us can do.  Those moments included speaking with those who were struggling, standing up for his beliefs, or doing random acts of kindness towards others.

Each and every one of us has the potential to be a real-life hero to others every day.  You never know how much that smiling and greeting someone else will boost their day.  Simply being present and listening to a friend who is having a rough day can be the greatest gift you can give them.  Helping an elderly person put their groceries in their car at the store can show them that good people do exist.

While we should do good deeds for others without thought of reward, it is ok to feel better for doing them.  The better we feel about our positive actions, the more positive actions we will seek to undertake.  We develop problems when we want to boast of our good actions.  More than two dozen times in his New Testament letters, Saint Paul warns us against boasting, and if we do boast, it should only be about the greatness of God.

The only thing holding us back from being a hero to others is ourselves – our insecurities in our abilities, our unsureness in ourselves, and our lack of belief that the simple things that we do can have a profound effect on others.  Never stop doing good.  Never stop trying to make the world a better place.  Never stop believing that you can be a real-life superhero to someone else.  God gave us all the ability to be special.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and relaxing summer!  Take time for yourself and enjoy this wonderful life that we have.  And, as always, be the change you wish to see in the world.