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Who Are Your Heroes? - The Hero Challenge

In this Sunday's (February 6, 2023) Gospel reading (Matthew 5:13-16), Jesus tells us "You are the light of the world ... Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father."


I wonder that sometimes it feels like those who serve their neighbors, whether through volunteering, or loving care of family members, or in careers of service such as in hospitals, nursing homes, day care centers, and schools, might think they lack humility if they let their work be seen by others. But Jesus is calling us to be seen. How can be seen and humble? The answer is the difference between seeking the spotlight and being the light. It is one thing to put ourselves on a stage and ask someone to shine a spotlight on us, where we are the object of attention. It is quite another to be that spotlight, shining the light of Christ, his love, on our neighbors.


As I was thinking about what more to say about this, I was driving in my car, listening to music, specifically a praise and worship song (my new favorite): Live Like That, by the Sidewalk Prophets. You can find it on YouTube:


This gave me an idea about how we can be inspired to be the light - by looking at who our heroes are and wanting to live like them. We can learn a lot from our heroes. We can recognize our own brokenness, because even our heroes are not perfect. But we also can recognize our own potential to be the light - we can imitate our heroes in the way that matters - by being faithful, and giving all we have.


So I invite you to try the "Hero Challenge" this week. Name your Christian heroes. Be inspired by them. Bring into your mind some images of your heroes in their greatest moments, where they were the light. Now, close your eyes, turn on the "Live Like That" song, and recall these images in your mind. Create your own montage of your heroes in your head (or, if you have the skill, create and share your own montage) - one where their actions are the light shining on the world, bringing glory to God. Don't you want to live like that, give all you have, and be the light of the world, too? Pray, asking God for the grace to live like that, and be the light.


Here are some my heroes, and some scenes in my montage:


St. Pope John Paul II

I can recall videos of him saying, "Be not afraid", with his telltale accent. Images of him leading Mass, holding up the host, such as his visit to Poland, visits in the U.S. and elsewhere, and at World Youth Days. His "worship was more than just a song". Images of him visiting, in prison, the man who attempted to assassinate him. Images of the crowd of people in St. Peter's square in the days leading up to his death.


St. Teresa of Calcutta

Almost any image of Mother Teresa working with the poor, or when she was particularly prophetic when she gave her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was "love when no one else would show up"; she was "Jesus to the least of us".


My top heros:


The Samaritan Woman (the Woman at the Well), a.k.a. St. Photina, martyr, in the eastern churches.

The Samaritan Woman is often called the first evangelizer. She was the first one to whom Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah, and she ran to her fellow villagers to tell them to "Come, meet someone ...". There is the image of this scene from The Chosen, Season 1, Episode 8, 40:00 to 49:00, and just about the 48:24 mark, where she says, "I'm going to tell everyone".


St. Faustina

The images I have in my head are based on reading her Diary, especially scenes where Jesus was speaking with her during Mass or Adoration, or when she realized how troubled someone was and treats them mercifully.


St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Images in my head of St. Pio include him presiding at Mass, and holding up the Eucharist with his bandaged hands, or images of the stories of him physically fighting off demons.


Other saints are heroes to me, like St. Maximilian Kolbe, martyr, St. Oscar Romero, bishop and martyr, and Dorothy Day, Servant of God


But, heroes don't have to be saints (or in the formal process of being considered one)...


Bishop Robert Barron

His is a hero for his willingness to enter into the fray on the internet and proclaim the Gospel without fear or hesitation.


Fr. Mike Schmitz

In my montage are images of him saying "Hi, I'm Fr. Mike Schmitz, and this is Ascension Presents" (really fast), as he does in all his videos. His videos demonstrate his evident passion about the heart of worship, especially in this talk he gave at the University of Notre Dame:


Fr. Theodore Hesburg

The image in my montage of (Fr. "Ted"), former president of the University of Notre Dame, is the famous one of him standing arm in arm with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Read about is commitment to civil rights here:


For stories that prove that Jesus is who he says he is, loves us, and His grace can really change hearts, consider the conversion stories of:


Sr. Miriam James Heidland

I love how Sr. Miriam speaks about encountering the love of Jesus. Her conversion story, a long version in two parts, is on her YouTube channel here:

A short version is here:


Fr. Don Calloway

I love how Fr. Don explains how he came to understand worship through being present at a Mass, shortly after an intervention by the Blessed Mother herself. His conversion story can be, for example, here:


Finally, some heroes from my own personal circle (may the last be first ...):

Fr. Robert Murray, pastor, Mary, Queen of the Apostles parish, and the staff and parishioners there, who inspire me to keep going. My Mom and Dad and sisters. My children. My wife.




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