“When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God…” – Acts 7:54-55

It seems like nowadays I cannot go to any movie theater without seeing some superhero-like movie in the listings. Web-slinging, shield-bearing, or magic-wielding; these fantastic characters carry some amazing power elevating them beyond human limits for some greater good. It takes me to a different place where anything is possible and for the briefest moments, I escape reality. In fact, watching The Last Jedi last week, I found myself imagining I could expertly wield the force and move obstacles with the wave of a hand. Imagine the problems I could solve, or run away from, if I had such powers!

Reading the story of Saint Stephen reminds me of those movies, but with more practical ramifications. Saint Stephen’s actions as the first martyr follow a superhero story arc, starting from a humble beginning all the way to an epic struggle with great loss. The biggest difference, though, is his superpower. He does not need fancy gadgets; Stephen gets his power from God.

Saint Stephen, like all the other saints, was at his core like us. He felt fear, harbored doubts, and experienced hardships like the rest of humanity. His calling was like ours too: love God and one another with all our beings. With complete love and trust in God came courage and wisdom, the powers that allowed him to become a saint and a martyr.

But those superpowers are not limited to saints we read about because we all have these abilities. Men and women in uniform, giving up their time and lives to protect us. My godfather, lying on his deathbed, courageously cracking jokes and making my family smile and laugh even on his last days. Each of you choosing to reflect and grow in faith every day. Even myself, on days I am struck with crippling depression and a sense of hopelessness, getting up and choosing to live the beautiful day God created rather than succumbing to my weakness.

Especially on this day after Christmas, we have the special gift of Jesus Christ, born for us. We are extraordinary because God is with us, giving us courage and faith even in our darkest moments and giving us the guidance of the Holy Spirit. God makes superheroes in all of us, just like Saint Stephen. In our own way, with love and trust in God, we can do anything.

How can we courageously accept and use our abilities from God to glorify Him and help those around us?

Thank you Lord for the abilities you have given me. Allow me to grow in love and trust in You. Help me to continue to receive Your gifts and use them in the way You intended, to love and to serve, just like You allowed Saint Stephen to do.

Kevin Nguyen

Photo Credit: Superhero Team Training