Humanity has been saved
In recent years there has been a considerable number of new film releases based on comic book heroes and heroines from both Marvel and DC Comics. One of the most popular characters is Superman, who has been given a contemporary makeover in the series of movies that began with Man of Steel, released in 2013. A significant feature of these films has been the effort to provide insight into the origins of the particular characters in order to show the reasons and motivations for their commitment to serving the human race. Indeed Superman’s ‘S’ on his costume, we are told, is his people’s symbol for hope. So why do these Superheroes commit themselves to save the human race?
These Superheroes are all dedicated to the cause of right. They have to contest with evil powers which are well beyond the capacity of ordinary humans. In the course of their efforts to protect and save the human race, these Superheroes have accepted struggle and suffering. They have been prepared to sacrifice their own security for the greater good. They have acted as self-sacrificing saviours of humanity. In this way, these characters and the stories of their exploits reflect something of the Christian story.
Christianity understands that God created us in an act of love and endowed us with great dignity as we were created “in the image and likeness of God”. We were given authority over all creation, and an eternal destiny awaits us. However, humanity chose a path of disobedience to God and so evil entered the world. We lost the integrity of the relationship with God, between human beings and between human beings and nature. Ever since, the human race has been plagued with suffering and the experience of evil. These destructive elements are not able to be overcome through purely human effort. At the personal and the social level, evil and its great array of manifestations has blighted human existence.
Humanity needed a definitive saving action to redeem this situation. As in the comic book scenarios, the human race needed a superhero. The human race was in need of a saviour. Someone was needed to overcome the powers of darkness, of evil, and sin. In a most extraordinary act, God sent a saviour, His only Son. This is the Christian story.
Christ came not with display of power, but in a profound humility that would ultimately lead to accepting the degradation of death by crucifixion. It was the ultimate act of self-sacrifice. The resurrection of Christ was the vindication of this selfless love of Christ. Christ conquered not only evil but its ultimate power to destroy human life.
The difference between Christ and the comic book heroes, apart from the fact he is a real person, is that His victory was absolute. Evil was conquered once and for all. Evil still exists in the world but it will not triumph in the end.
This Easter, as the Christian world celebrates the resurrection of Christ, it is good to reflect on the Christian story as the story of the salvation of the human race from the powers of evil. The Resurrection of Christ is the definitive act which has ensured that good will triumph in the end. We live in the knowledge that the devil will not be victorious.
As Christians we live with the awareness that evil will not triumph and that a final victory is assured. We live with hope and confidence in the future. We Christians can have an abiding spirit of joy because humanity has been saved.
Archbishop Julian Porteous
March 25, 2018