On Comic Books and Real Christian Suffering

I recently shared a video I did with Fr. Mike Schmitz on the connection of comic books and Christianity. This was a few days after suicide bombers killed hundreds of innocent Christians in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

Immediately after I shared the video, which we recorded weeks ago in anticipation for the last Marvel Avengers film, I felt a powerful sense of guilt.

People have been killed. And I’m posting about comic books?

I tried to explain my thoughts to a friend but came up with few words or answers. I feel utter sorrow and pain for the families who lost their loved ones and friends so tragically on a day devoted to celebrating Our Lord’s defeat of death.

But what is my level of responsibility? To the extent that I know, how am I responsible? Is it enough to share a post, put out a hashtag, “raise awareness,” donate a few dollars? Then carry on with my life?

What more can or should be done?

I know that to get so caught up in global affairs and neglect my family, work, or local community is also unjust. My wife and children need my attention and presence. What is my responsibility locally vs. abroad?

What’s the point of this post, even? Is it virtue-signaling or self-righteous to be writing on this instead of keeping my prayer for the suffering within the quiet enclosure of my heart? Who cares what I think?

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have any answers. I don’t think there’s a quick-and-easy answer.

If you’re reading, I imagine you have also felt the struggle of living in this strange space. The Body of Christ is wounded and experiences daily persecutions. I live comfortably here in the West. How ought I to live?

This is the tension of living in the here-and-now. Suffering and joy co-exist in this world. G.K. Chesterton said that in Catholicism “the cross, the pipe, and the pint all fit together.” We must not shut our eyes to the pain of others. To the extent that we can, we lean in, assist, and pray. But we cannot take on the sin of the entire world. We’re not the savior–Christ is. Mother Teresa said that if you can’t feed every person in need, just feed one.

As we contemplate and embrace the cross, the bleakness and suffering of life, we also can enjoy the pleasures and joy that a life in Christ provides. We can’t live in the shadow of a melancholic darkness, running from all good things. But we do need to keep these good things in check.

Our life on this earth is temporary. We must mourn with those who mourn, the suffering Christians of Sri Lanka, Nigeria, China, Egypt, Louisiana, and so many others. Their losses are ours too.

We must live well and fight for the oppressed, even with the little we have. Even if it means going to Mass with a grateful heart, attentive to worship, and bringing the intentions of our fallen brothers and sisters to the altar. We must also rejoice in the good things of life while we have them, all with a spirit of gratitude, knowing that Our God holds victory even over death itself.

Sometimes it surely seems like the darkness of the world is too much and that Satan (or Thanos) has truly won. But that’s not how our story ends.

We must remember the Resurrection and live life with the perspective of eternity. To Christ be the glory, now and forever.

“Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer…Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep…

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Romans 12: 9-21

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