Spiderman, Barack Obama & Me

A friend pointed out something to me the other day that is quite funny. If you search my name on Amazon.com, you get four results: my two books, my author page and an issue of the Spiderman comic featuring Spiderman and Barack Obama on the cover. I have no connection with this particular comic book (or any comic book, for that matter), but I do find it funny that this should come up. Though the explanation seems little more than that there are two people involved with the comic, one named “Mark” and the other named “Mossa,” it still seems in some ways apropos. Though I was never avid comic book reader or collector, I have always been fascinated with superheroes. Certainly it must go along with my interest in sci-fi and fantasy (which is about all I read when I was a kid), but I’ve always been fascinated by stories of people with special powers, or those who make the most of what they have. When I was just beginning to read, I loved also to read stories about strange phenomena like the Bermuda triangle or Easter island. It was about that same time when my best friend and I would play “Batman & Robin,” plotting strategies against our evil enemy–his older sister.

Thus, all my life I have believed that we are capable of doing more than we think we can, even what some insist might be “impossible.” That is why, as a Christian, though I often let fear get in the way, I have always taken Jesus at his word when he said that we can do greater things than we think ourselves capable of, even greater things than he! I have found this to be true, not necessarily in dramatic “superhero” type ways, but often in simple ways. For me, this is apparent in moments in ministry when I find myself doing things that I thought I’d never do, overcoming anxiety to enter into someone else’s pain to the extent that in some way I can feel it too, or saying or doing just the right thing, and later wondering and being amazed knowing that “just right” thing came from somewhere beyond me. I could not have come up with that on my own. I could not have done that, without God.

As far as Barack Obama, I don’t really have much to say. And, unfortunately these days, you can’t mention a political figure without sparking a firestorm of contempt or even hate in some people. But one can hardly deny that simply by being elected president, he accomplished something many thought to be impossible. To get there, he too had to get to a moment when he thought the “impossible” possible. This was a key moment for me in my discernment to become a priest. Some priests, perhaps, knew they could do it long before they actually did. For me, it took a while before I got to a point where I thought, “you know, I just might be able to do this,” and it wasn’t until I got there that I was able to apply to the Jesuits, and get started in the process. That was about 15 years ago, and I celebrated two years as a priest, just this week. Not only has it proven to be possible, but it seems like I’ve been doing it much longer than that!

It doesn’t take the bite of a genetically altered super-spider for us to do amazing things. Jesus said with just a little faith, we can do the impossible. What impossible things have you done lately? Or what might you be being called to do?