Marvel Comic’s The Avengers is one of the most successful and popular movie franchises ever, with the four Avengers films holding the top spots as the highest-grossing superhero films of all time. The franchise’s popularity demonstrates our fascination with the fantastic and unbelievable. We want to believe in superheroes; that there are beings greater than ourselves, powerful and benevolent, who protect us and save us from evil and darkness. What we forget is that we already have a God who is that all-powerful being and is omniscient and omnipotent. The greatest superhero we could ever hope to know actually made us, directs our lives, and loves and cares for us. Our lack of a strong and confident faith reduces our belief in God’s awesome power and majesty. We forget that he can do anything!
A Little Faith Goes a Long Way
This Sunday’s gospel reading begins with the apostles asking Jesus to increase their faith. In response, Jesus tells them, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to [this] mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6) We need to be reminded that the mustard seed is the tiniest of seeds — only a little faith is necessary for God to do amazing things! It seems, though, that so many Christians have lost even that tiny bit of faith. We do not witness miracles because we don’t believe in them anymore. We are enticed with the glamour and prestige of the world and the matters of faith seem childish and trivial to us. We don’t believe in the spiritual and supernatural world. How can we recapture the trust that is needed to see prayers answered and mountains moved?
Asking for the Gift of Faith
Faith is freely given by God and we should never take it for granted. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes faith as “a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him.” It continues, “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.'” (CCC 153) In asking Jesus for an increase in faith, the disciples were demonstrating what we should also do when we desire an increase in belief and confidence in him. The first step to a strong faith is to ask for that particular grace. When we pray, for example, the prayer of the Rosary, we should always remember to request a particular grace from Our Lady. When we ask for a strong faith, we can believe that God will give us that grace because he always gives us what will benefit our soul.
It would be amazing to actually have a plethora of superheroes emerging to defend us in battle and defeat our enemies. Who wouldn’t love to have Iron Man at their disposal to rescue them from danger and defeat their enemies?! However, we have something even better: a God who is mighty and powerful and who knows and loves each of us intimately. God helps us in all of our difficulties and challenges, if only we trust and believe in his goodness and his ability to guide and direct our lives. We can rest assured that when we call on him in fear, distress, illness, and other problems, he is listening and responds to us in the most beneficial way possible, because he is almighty and all-powerful. During his time of trial, Job eloquently describes God’s majesty and power in these words, which are taken from his response to Bildad the Shuhite, one of Job’s three friends:
He stretches out Zaphon over the void, and suspends the earth over nothing at all;
He binds up the waters in his clouds, yet the cloud is not split by their weight;
He holds back the appearance of the full moon by spreading his clouds before it.
He has marked out a circle on the surface of the deep as the boundary of light and darkness.
The pillars of the heavens tremble and are stunned at his thunderous rebuke;
By his power he stilled Sea, by his skill he crushed Rahab;
By his wind the heavens were made clear, his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
Lo, these are but the outlines of his ways, and what a whisper of a word we hear of him:
Who can comprehend the thunder of his power? –Job 26:7-14