Comparing Superman’s Return and the Resurrection of Jesus

Rejoice He is Risen! The Easter Season is a time of joy. Jesus defeated death and promises us the hope of resurrection. During the current pandemic we need as much hope as possible.

Jesus Resurrection

Saint Pope John Paul II proclaimed, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” Hope is confidence in the uncertain. Uncertainty definitely has prevailed over the past several months. Or at least that is the appearance. Despair, confusion, and doubt are the weapons of our Enemy.

Jesus is a model for the perfect human. God became man. He shows us the way to free us from sins. Literature is filled with heroic figures. But nearly all contain a fatal character flaw. Hubris. Greed. Anger. Lust. Or envy. While  no characters, especially comic book characters, can be matched perfectly with Jesus there is one superhero most commonly associated Christ— Superman.

The Man of Steel embodies everything you want in a hero: strength, a great origin story, and virtuous character. Some may argue Kal-El is too perfect.  Unrelatable even. But I think most can agree that Superman is a symbol of hope for Metropolis and Earth.

Nearly 30 years ago, DC featured a game-changing storyline—The Death of Superman. In an epic fight against Doomsday, Superman fought this villain to the death. This shocked the comic book world when it first debuted. The Man of Tomorrow died. What happened next in The Return of Superman Volume was mysterious. Reading it reminded me of the mystery surrounding the identity of Jesus after his Resurrection.

Who Do You Say that I am?

Before Superman returned several claimants to his mantle appeared.  In the Reign of Supermen, four “heroes” arrive on the scene: The Man of Steel (Steel), The Man of Tomorrow (later referred to as Cyborg Superman), Metropolis Kid (Superboy), and The Last Son of Krypton (later revealed as the Eradicator). All four wear the symbol of Superman, but it quickly becomes clear to the reader that neither Steel nor Superboy are actually a version of Superman.

cyborg superman

Cyborg Superman and the Eradicator initially convince some people in Metropolis that they are the “resurrected” Superman. In Born Again,  Lois Lane encounters the new visored Superman and thinks, “He looks like Clark but he sounds so cold, hollow.” The following exchange between the Last Son of Kypton (Eradicator) and Lois foreshadows the false claim to Superman:

Eradicator: “I am Superman… I am not playing any game.”

Lois: “Superman never hid his face! and he didn’t wear black like an executioner!”

Eradicator: “No, not before, but I have been through so much…I have changed.”

He provided specific facts about Lois’ life to convince her, at first, that he was Superman. But facts alone don’t prove that a person rises from the dead.

Likewise, Cyborg Superman addresses Lois in similar fashion in the issue Alive.  Lois questions the Cyborg, but he claims that most of his memory is lost. To the reader, the story gets more complicated as to the identity of the real Superman when Cyborg has his DNA tested against a sample from Kal-El. It was revealed that the DNA matched perfectly. Professor Hamilton tells Lois, “I’m telling you that all my tests and data have me thoroughly convinced. I would say say with great probability–that this man is Superman come back to life!

Actions Speak Louder than Words

While mystery pervades the majority of The Return of Superman volume, over time the actions of the claimants to Superman’s name show more sinister motives. Lies cannot last forever. The actions of Cyborg Superman and the Eradicator did not line up with the ideals of the true Last Son of Krypton.

superman symbol

In the issue Lies and Revelations, a cult of followers worship Cyborg Superman. A cult member exclaimed, “Look not upon our Savior’s face with fear! For though he bears the marks of his righteous battle against the terrible beast Doomsday–by his deeds you shall know the truth! And his noble and merciful deeds reveal in him the one true Superman!” He goes on to tell the crowd that the “visored Superman” (the Eradicator) is the false one because of his tortuous and violent acts.

At this point in the story arc, the reader knows fairly certain that the Eradicator is not the real Superman. However, the verdict is still out for Cyborg Superman. Later in the issue it is revealed that Cyborg Superman has enlisted the villain Mongul.

In the episode Return of Superman, Cyborg Superman’s plot to destroy Metropolis is revealed in addition to the fact that he is actually the consciousness of Hank Henshaw transferred into a cyborg body with the DNA splicing of Superman. At the end of the issue the true Superman returns in a black Kryptonian armor suit. “Don’t let the outfit fool you. I’m Superman and I’m back.”

Connections with Christ

Superman’s return has a few connections with the true Resurrection of Jesus. First of all, both Superman and Jesus were initially unrecognizable. According to John 20:15, Mary Magdalene did not realize the man speaking to her was Jesus.

Another similarity between Kal-El and Christ involves the battle over evil. Jesus defeated sin with his Death on the Cross. Superman killed Doomsday, a horrific foe, who represents

pure brutality and rage. In a sense—sin incarnate. Now a compelling reason why Cyborg Superman was at first convincing was that he bore the wounds of death and battle. Jesus’ resurrected body also bore the marks of the Crucifixion. The major difference between the two is that Cyborg Superman was part machine. Artificial. Christ’s resurrected body was true flesh. Still fully human while being fully divine.

A final connection I found between Jesus and Superman’s resurrections is that love led to their closest friends recognizing the truth. The Apostle’s recalled Jesus’ teachings and through the power of the Holy Spirit had faith that their teacher and friend truly returned from the dead. Analogously, Superman’s encounter with Lois displayed the power of love too. He appealed to Lois’ marriage with Clark Kent, his alter ego. Superman told his wife that Clark’s favorite movie is To Kill a Mockingbird. This intimate detail proved his claim. Lois recognized the dark clad man as the true Superman/Clark Kent. Love and truth always go together.

Rejoice He is Risen! Truly this is Good News. More accurately it is Great News!  We live in stressful times. Satan is always on the prowl. God loves us and wants us to enjoy his presence. Reading is proven way to relax. The Return of Superman  was an enjoyable, page-turning story. Add the fact it had resurrection and new life themes and it makes an excellent read (or re-read) anytime.

 

 

Advertisements
Thank you for sharing!

3 Simple and Effective Ways to Live Out Your Baptismal Vows in 2019!

By: William Hemsworth

The book of Joshua is an interesting book in the Old Testament. Moses has died, and the children of Israel are about to enter the promised land. Before they do so they must cross the Jordan river, but they have no way to cross. It is at this point that we must look at the power of God over nature. In Exodus the Lord parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape Pharaoh. In the book of Joshua God parted the Jordan River.

This can be read in Joshua 3:17 which states, “While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan” (NRSV). Through baptism one parts the waters and is being led by the New Moses, which is Jesus Christ (Origen page 52). It is Christ, through his priesthood, that leads us into the future.

This is important for those of you who are being baptized. God has shown over and over what he can do in the natural realm. He parted the Red Sea, he provided manna from Heaven, and today He begins a new work in you. Through Baptism you step in the water, just as the twelve tribes did in the book of Joshua, and the waters part. You now follow the priests of Christ into the land of our inheritance (Origen page 53).

Plunging into the Depths of God Passion

Jesus' Baptism

Through of your baptism you are dying and rising with Christ. This is a great responsibility, and a great honor. Christ is exalted when you come to the baptismal waters, and he is happy that you are here. Follow Christ and keep him close. Do not fall back into sin and be like the Egyptians who were swallowed up by the Red Sea.

For those of you who were baptized at the Easter Vigil, the journey is just beginning. You answered the call of Christ and were obedient to be baptized, but what now? This is a great time in the church as we welcome new members, but sometimes this is the last we see of some. The simple fact is that some treat the Easter Vigil like a form of Catholic graduation. In the above paragraphs I used some of the imagery that Origen wrote concerning baptism. Baptism was your journey across the Jordan river into the promised last. You are now in a state of grace as all sin has now been washed away. Now is not the time for complacency!

At this point you are probably calling me a buzzkill, but I have been there. When we become complacent, we are a prime target for Satan. He is looking for every opportunity to take us back from Christ. That was me within three years of coming into the church, and I want to provide you with some guidance.

Necessity of Prayer and Reading Scripture

Pray Daily Read Bible Daily

First and foremost, it is imperative that you establish a prayer life. Prayer is our communication with God. Some struggle and think that we need elaborate words or requests, but that is not the case. It can be reflecting on a passage of scripture, the rosary, Lectio Divina, or sitting in a quiet space reflecting on God. Whatever you choose is up to you, but try to have a dedicated space and time set aside every day. Make it part of your routine. There is really not better way to start the day than talking with our creator.

Secondly, make it a habit to read scripture. The Bible is the Word of God and is given to us for instruction. I read an acronym recently that said that the Bible was Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Within its pages you will learn about some of the great men and women that preceded us and how we can learn from them. You will learn more about the life of Christ, and how to live the Christian life. It is a discipline that will help you draw closer to the Lord.

Participate in the Church Community

Thirdly, find a way to get involved in your parish. You are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit at confirmation, and you have a skill and gift that will benefit your parish. Often times people are hesitant because they think that what they are good at is insignificant. No way!

Not alone

We are a family, and each member of the family has a part in its success. You can join a parish prayer group, bible study, or volunteer to clean the sanctuary. It all matters and is all important. When you get involved you make friends with like minded people who will support you and love you in those times that are not easy.

Thus far much has been said about baptism and some things that may be helpful as you continue the Catholic life. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but the point is that is just the beginning. At the Easter Vigil you received the sacraments of initiation. Though you only receive baptism and confirmation once we often reaffirm those commitments as reminders that our journey is never ending. It will only end at the end of our earthly lives. In the example above, Origen write about the Israelites crossing the Jordan as an allegory for baptism. They didn’t remain the rest of their lives on the shore on the other side of the river. They forged ahead, and that is what regularly receiving the sacraments and being involved in the life of the church allow us to do. Confirmation Catholic Meme

WORKS CITED

Origen, et al. Homilies on Joshua. Catholic University of America Press, 2002. The Fathers of the Church.

About our guest blogger:

William is a convert to the Catholic faith.  Before entering the church he was ordained as a Baptist and Lutheran and earned a Master of Divinity from Liberty Theological Seminary. William lives with his wife and four children in Tucson, AZ and teaches religious education for children and adults.  Check out his website/blog at williamhemsworth.com for more great and informative Catholic content!

Thank you for sharing!

Realizing the Resurrection: Proofs from Scriptures, Saints, and My Experience

resurrection

Today Christianity across the world celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is a celebration of a miraculous—and seemingly impossible—event. The feast of Jesus’ Resurrection holds a special place in my heart.  I wish to share the basic biblical proof of the Resurrection, examples from some saints, and my own personal experience.

Note: If you still have questions related to a more cerebral and logical argument for the Resurrection of Jesus I highly recommend Carl Olson’s: Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?

Gospel evidence

Since there a lot of evidence to refer to and I prefer to keep today’s post as concise as possible I will only focus on the two strongest pieces of evidence I found to be convincing for me in showing validity in Jesus’ Resurrection. First, the witness of the women being the initial people to notice the empty tomb is strong evidence. The reason for this is due to in 1st century Palestine life women did not enjoy the benefits of voting, membership in the workforce, or even respect to be witnesses in events like today.

Why would the Gospel writers uniformly state that the first witnesses to the empty tomb and to proclaim Jesus as risen were women unless it was true? It still does not make sense to me why the gospel writers would embarrass the apostles by placing women in a place of honor at being the first evangelizers of Jesus’ Resurrection unless that was the truth!

Secondly, the Gospel of Matthew already shows alternative explanations already surfacing to explain the disappearance of Jesus’ body when the tomb was opened. According to Matthew, the priests and elders charged the Roman soldiers to create a story to explain why the tomb was empty. They [priests and elders] state, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him while we were asleep’. If any word of this gets to the procurator, we will straighten it out with him and keep you out of trouble.” (Matthew 28:13-14).  This never made sense to me. If the apostles were fraudulent, why the Matthew plainly write about the theory of the stolen body of Jesus? Such a theory only makes sense as a lie developed by the priests and elders.

Saintly Sources

Because of the vast array of saints to attest to the truth of the Resurrection, I will only focus on two for conciseness’ sake—St. Peter and St. Paul. The thing that I really love about St. Peter is his fervor to follow the gospel after Jesus’ Resurrection. In addition to being the 1st pope of the Catholic Church, Peter testified to the truth of the Gospel as a martyr via crucifixion.

St. Paul represents arguably the greatest conversion in the history of Christianity. Paul went from being a murderer of Christians to the Church’s great evangelizer and writer of almost 2/3 of the New Testament. These two men show us that they encountered someone who transformed them. Peter and Paul’s conversions are an effect of the power of Jesus’ Resurrection!

peter and paul

My Testimony

While my own testimony does not hold the same weight at Scripture and Tradition, I still am convinced that certain things in my life transpired due to a power outside of my control and full understanding. During my darkest days a few years ago I learned of the power of God. He rose me up from the loss of a job and our miscarriages. God continues to demonstrate the glory of His Resurrected Son in seemingly ordinary things too. For example, I asked my cousin to pray for my wife for an important interview. My cousin told me, “Of course, and incidentally she [my wife] was the person my cousin and his fiancée scheduled to pray for, in a special way, anyways.” This is not the first time this seeming coincidence happened to my cousin.

Through Scripture, Tradition [the saints], and my personal experience with daily and extraordinary events I have come to more deeply realize the Resurrection of Jesus as an historical fact. I pray that you come to enjoy this truth in Scripture, Tradition, and your own life’s experiences!

Thank you for sharing!