Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. -Luke 21:33
Recently, I showed my Sophomore Christology class the movie, Avengers: Infinifty War. It is the next to the last movie of the Marvel series. It is about the super heroes trying to protect the universe from Thanos, who sees that the universe is out of balance through poverty and starvation of the people. Thanos believes that the only way to put the universe back into balance is to destroy half the universe. He must first gather six stones that each have a specific power. These are Space, Mind, Time, Reality, Power, and Soul. As Thanos collects these stones he becomes more powerful but at a cost. This is either one of the super heroes or in the case of the Soul stone Thanos sacrifices his adopted daughter, who was willing to kill herself so as to keep Thanos from gaining the Soul stone. In the end, the superheroes are defeated and half the universe is destroyed. As this happens some of the super heroes turn to dust and blow away in the wind. The last scene shows Thanos retiring to a mountain retreat but his demeanor is far from joyful.
Today’s first reading is from the book of Daniel with an apocryphal imagery. The beasts represent the kingdoms of the Ancient Middle East; Babylon, Persia, Median and Greek. These kingdoms were opposed to the Jewish Kingdom of God. In the Book of Revelation it is the Romans who are the beast and they oppose the Christians. Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation all have eschatological, or end times focus. Just as in the movie, Infinity War there is good verses evil. There is the oppressor and those being oppressed or destroyed. In Daniel, “One like the Son of Man” comes into the picture. He is the image of wholeness and perfection. He is the One who brings all things into balance.
Today we see people standing on the street corners from time to time with cardboard signs warning that we are in the end times or the end of the world is about to occur due to natural disasters or from fears. Our world is out of balance and the Gospels offer the remedy from Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 25. To feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, visit the sick, give a drink to the thirsty and give shelter to the homeless. These are known as the Corporal Works of Mercy. Along with Jesus’ command to, “love your neighbor as yourself”. These are the ways we build the kingdom of God. God’s word is not about destruction but building up. Building up each other through acts of kindness and generosity.
Even if you are not a Marvel fan, I invite you to watch Avengers: Infinity War and End Game. They are modern apocryphal tales. Look for the spiritual meanings and connections. The last days of the liturgical year are upon us and a new year is about to begin.
Linda Schork is a theology teacher at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky.