Sunday, April 7, 2019

How Into the Spider-Verse Can Show Us The Universal Call to Holiness

A couple of weeks ago a movie that is much beloved by my children finally came out on Netflix and my husband and boys could not rest until I had seen it (they went to the theater to see it without me).

While I was indeed impressed with the level of unprecedented artistic originality, in my mind a series of thoughts began to weave themselves together into a religious theme. Surprised? Yea. I didn't think so.

An indian priest that I mention often who influenced my life greatly, was speaking to a small group of us DJMs at someone's house about the meaning of true discipleship. What does it look like? He said something that has always stuck with me.

"We are afraid of greatness." 

Then he said "If the Lord told you he would give you 1,000 people to disciple would you accept it?" I have often thought about it. Because at first glance, it seems like our society is actually focused on being "great" maybe a little too much. "Getting ahead of the Joneses" forget about keeping up with them. Getting on the top of the ladder, etc. I don't mean to say that there is something wrong with excelling in something. Even many things. But our true dignity and glory lies in fulfilling what our creator called us to be from the beginning of time. Sometimes we get muddled and confused by the world's standards, our family's standards, friends' standards, well basically everyone but God's. God knows us better than anyone because He made us. He made us with a specific plan in mind. For all eternity.  And we never even think to ask Him "what was your plan for me when you made me?" I think we are afraid to know. We are afraid it may mean we will need to change, or step out of what feels comfortable, or that we will not be happy with His plan, or, even worse, that we will fail. 

"Anyone can wear the mask!"  

But here's the truth. We are all called to greatness. We are all unique in that calling. My greatness is different from yours. Because God made me to be "great" in my own unique way. We can all wear the mask, Here it from Miles himself in this great clip...

I love the story that "Into the Spider-Verse" tells. Miles Morales isn't sure of who he is at first. He's trying to live up to a lot of different expectations. He feels awkward with the "greatness" that is thrust upon him. Another spiderman from another dimension, who is probably more relatable to most of us than we would admit, is less than perfect in multiple areas of his life. But, he knows who he is. He tells Miles when he asks him, "When do I know I'm spiderman?" that all it is, is...

A leap of faith

Watch this short clip, where he finally takes that leap of faith, and starts to see who he truly is...

Here's the whole picture. God is Greatness Himself. When he created us in His image and likeness, He made us "great" by association. 

"..every one who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.” 
Isaiah 43:7

Apart from Him, we are nothing, on our own. But when we let go, truly let go of control, of our own expectations, of relying on ourselves, or relying on others, to make us "great", we are capable of doing the amazing. Even the miraculous.

This is what these people did.... 

Elijah, a prophet and saint of the Old Testament, performed the following miracles:

Meal and oil multiplied  1 Kings 17:14
Child restored to life 1 Kings 17:22
Sacrifice consumed by fire 1 Kings 18:38
Captains and men were slain by fire 2 Kings 1:10
Rain brought 1 Kings 18:41
Water of Jordan divided 2 Kings 2:8
(taken from

He is one of many in the Old Testament that God worked through. This is a great chart by scripture verse, person, and event, of all the miracles listed in the Old Testament. In the new, of course Jesus is performing miracles all throughout and his apostles followed in his footsteps. 

Among the "modern day" saints, those living after biblical times, here are a few examples:

St. Padre Pio had the gift of bi-location. There were several accounts of people seeing him in 2 places at 1 time.

St Padre Pio (d. 1968), St Anthony of Padua (d. 1231), St John Bosco (d. 1888), St Philip Neri (d.1595), St Francis of Paola (d. 1507), St Joseph of Cupertino (d. 1663) and St Paul of the Cross (d. 1775) were some of the saints that had the gift to read souls. This is defined as a supernatural gift of God whereby a Saint is able to read into the heart and conscience of an individual to then be able to guide and direct the person towards a greater union with God.

My absolute favorite though is St. Joseph of Cupertino who had the gift of flying or you may call it levitation. There were so many accounts of it that he is considered the patron saint of airplane passengers. Read more about his and other saints stories of this miracle here. 

There were also many saints who had a miraculous influence over animals. Don Bosco, one of our family favorites, had a dog that regularly appeared and disappeared to protect him in time of need. He obeyed Don Bosco's orders at all times. The saint called him "Grigio" meaning "the grey one". Read other amazing saint animal stories here.

Why am I sharing all of these stories? These were human beings. with flaws. who dared to have faith in God and who they were called to be in Him.

And the zinger is, we are ALL called to be saints. Why would God call us to such a level of greatness?! 

If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze! 

-St. Catherine of Sienna

He wants all people to go to heaven. That's why He made us. And when you are shining the light of Christ to the world with your life... the world cannot help but be drawn to that light. 

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Ok so, on the same day I saw this movie, I was on a walk at the park and this song came on my playlist. I couldn't get the lyrics out of my head. If you can't listen to the song, read the lyrics!

Have you ever felt so alive inside that you just couldn’t contain it
Something’s happenin' and you can’t explain it
Uh, In a room full of strangers
When we come alive inside everything changes 
Yeah, we got the light burning so bright
Set fire to the night you know we just might
‘Cause we all so unashamed, power’s in the name
Set the boat on fire, fan it into flames
There is nothing that can take this light away
We are ablaze with an eternal flame

We got a fire in the rain
We got a joy amid the pain
We got a spark
Here in our heart
We got a light to guide the way
We got a hope for darker days
We got a spark
Here in our heart

Sometimes it can feel like the world leaves you out in the cold
Feeling frozen in snow and you know that nobody knows, but
You’ve got the fire, it’s been there from the start
All it takes is a spark to ignite in the dark
Tonight you burn brighter than the LA streetlights
The haters gonna hate but you gonna speak life
Yeah, they gonna see right
Christ the only person that we wanna be like
There is nothing that can take this light away
We are ablaze with an eternal flame

So the darker it gets, the brighter you shine
The darker it gets, the brighter you shine
The darker it gets, the brighter you shine
You’re just shinin' bright
So when the storm clouds come
And the sky is black as night
That spark is alive inside you
And it’s ready to ignite
Are you ready?
Are you ready?
Let’s go!

So when I heard this line in the movie, all I could think about was above song. Miles' dad comes to reach out to him from behind a closed door. He says:

 "I see this, this spark in you. It's amazing. It's why I push you, but it's yours.." 

So, consider this. Take a leap of faith. Spend a few minutes every day in silence and ask the Holy Spirit (even if you don't believe he exists) "What do you want for me?" He might surprise you and show you.  Maybe your "greatness" is not levitating, or talking to animals, or raising people from the dead, maybe it's just having the courage to do what you never thought you could. Stepping out of your comfort zone. Maybe it's pursuing dreams God has put on your heart when everyone thinks you're crazy. Whatever it may be, find your spark.


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