Before bedtime recently my son was helping to pick out his PJs and insisted on wearing his Spiderman set. “But Dad, I can’t be a superhero without a superhero costume.”
What is it with superheroes and costumes anyway? One of the most interesting and exciting scenes in either the (relatively) recent Spiderman and Batman movies were when these heroes were coming up with their costumes: Peter scribbling away in his sketchbook and Bruce working long hours in the secret division of his company.
Costumes allow us to enter into a reality which is at one time us, and at the same time more than us. Once Peter and Bruce put on their suits they became different people, Spiderman and Batman. They were never the same again.
Christians live in the world we see around us, and yet at the same time live in a constant battle between good and evil in the supernatural (spiritual) world. St. Paul reminds us that our battle is not with “flesh and blood” but with demons! (Eph 6:12) The battles for justice that our mythical comic book friends experience, no matter how exciting, will never be as lasting, brutal and decisive than the real battles which are fought against evil every day by Christians in their own souls.
Spiderman may have a skin-tight red and blue outfit which aids him in battling evil. Christians have an even more impressive superhero outfit, one in which they have “put off the old self and put on Christ” through Holy Baptism. Our outfit prepares us to live in an eternal kingdom and cannot be removed, no matter what temptations, persecutions or human failures we are faced with.
Yes, Batman does have a really cool “Bat-signal” which appears in the night over the city of Gotham and strikes fear into the hearts of evil doers. But Christians have even better than that in the Cross, a symbol which strikes fear into the heart of evil itself. This symbol also appeared in the sky to Emperor Constantine and Christianized the most powerful empire of the day!
Next time my son is helping pick his PJs out, I’ll assure him that he can feel just fine sleeping in his underwear. As a Christian, Spiderman’s got nothing on him.