I’ve noticed something about movie titles lately. So many of them contain the word dark. The Dark Knight Rises, Thor: The Dark World, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Dark Shadows, Zero Dark Thirty. Others might not use the word but their subject matter is dark: Divergent, The Hunger Games franchise, even the recent Noah film. As Christian moviegoers, how do we stay focused on the light?
John’s Gospel says, “The light shines in darkness and the darkness did not overcome it” (Jn 1:5). All of our lives contain some darkness, it’s part of being human. The challenge of Christian living is to let Christ’s light shine in the ordinariness of everyday life. Another way of saying it is to strive to do what’s right even when it’s not easy.
I just saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier and it got me to thinking about the superhero genre of films. Characters like Superman, Spiderman, Ironman, and Captain America (why are they all men?) are usually portrayed as moral examples in contrast to the evil villain. The hero saves people when the villain threatens doom and destruction, often at great cost to themselves. Captain America (Chris Evans) almost gets killed (several times) as he’s trying to plant the computer chips that will destroy the nasty new killing machines being made by the bad guys. Being the hero, however, does not come easily for him. Raised in the 1930’s and 40’s, the darkness in the modern world makes him doubt that he can make a difference. In one scene, he goes incognito to the Smithsonian’s display about himself during World War Two. Back then, right and wrong seemed so much clearer than it is now. Reconnecting with his values and beliefs gives him the light he needs to be “The Cap” once again.
We don’t have to be superheroes to bring light into our world. The reality of darkness means that being a light won’t always be easy but it will always be possible. Why? Most importantly, because Jesus conquered evil, is risen from the dead and lives among us still. Also, because prayer and the Sacraments, especially Eucharist, reconnects us with our values and beliefs, thus providing us the strength we need to keep focused on the light. One of the nuns I work with has a little poster over her desk that reads “Be the reason someone smiles today”. That’s really all it takes, isn’t it?
by Sr. Hosea Rupprecht