Are there born heroes?

14 July 2009. Tuesday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time
Exodus 2, 1-15; Psalm 69; Matthew 11, 20-24

The CW television series, Smallville, is now on its 9th season, chronicling the birth and youth of almost everyone’s hero, DC comics character, Superman. Its popularity can be attributed to our tendency to know the background of a hero. We usually seek to find extraordinary signs that stamp the person as a superhuman right from the beginning of their lives. For example, there is a painting of the Greek hero, Hercules, when he was young. It depicts young Hercules strangling snakes sent by Juno, before the eyes of Amphitryon and Alcmene and his father Jupiter in the form of an eagle.

The same way with Moses. We are fascinated by his birth and his youth because we know that he would soon rise as Israel’s hero. He would bring his people from the bondage of Egypt to the promised land. Much like Clark Kent in Smallville: he saves oppressed people. But many of these heroic stories are set in a stage wherein the villains are trapped in their own folly. This twist contributes to the narratives’ humor and sweet justice. In the first reading, Pharoah suppresses God’s people by killing all baby boys. Little did he know that his very own daughter would save the life of a Hebrew slave and worse, adopts him as her very own.

But the story does not end there. The reading tells us that when Moses was young, he killed an Egyptian who beat a Hebrew slave. Having been raised by his very own mother and sister, I am sure he was raised up loving his own kin. When what he’d done became known, he flees to the desert at Midian.

The very reason for our propensity to trace the beginnings of hero-hood is to see parallel events in his early days as well as in his older years. Moses had to build his credibility if he has to lead his people. First, showed his connection with his real kin by protecting them from the oppression of the Egyptian. We was already saving them from the start. Second, just as he would lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the desert on their way to the Promised land, Moses flees Egypt and lives with the Midianites. The would-be leader should know the life in the desert. In other words, the birth of Moses is God’s way of preparing him for the immense task of saving his people from bondage.

When we look back at our lives, we can glean at preparatory events that led us to where we are today. Our interests may have pointed us to the right degree in education. Our tragedies may have helped us become more resilient in facing more storms in our lives; or have taught us values and principles that we pass on to our sons and daughters. Though the future is uncertain, there are events that points to where we are meant to be in the greater scheme of things.

Fr. Adolfo Nicolas SJ, the Superior General of all of us Jesuits shared to us this food for thought. He said that God gave us six obvious directions: up, down, left, right, front, and back. But He hid one: inside. I think we are to learn reading the events in our lives more deeply in the view of its deeper meaning and in view of its direction. What does it mean? Where does it lead us? We may not find the answers instantly. Nevertheless when we continue to live out these questions, the answers will eventually show itself to us. However, in God’s time.

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