Most of us have looked up to superheroes at one point in our lives. Did you ever dress up like one of them? I did! My mother always organized costume parties on my birthday and one year, I dressed up as Wonder Woman. It was probably my 5th or 6th birthday but I remember it as if it were yesterday!
Superheroes are all over these days. Here in L.A., there is always a superhero movie coming up. The superhero rides at the amusement parks are the most popular ones (Green Lantern, Superman, Batman, etc.). The comic book stores are never outdated. These are just a few examples of how much people look up to heroes.
There is a kind of hero that I would like to talk about. These are real people who live their lives to the fullest. Their main superpower is LOVE. They use their natural gifts to cooperate with God’s grace, so their lives become really powerful and full of meaning.
John Bosco was one of these superheroes. Growing up in a poor village close to the Italian Alps, John always liked to help other children to know and love God. After a long distance walk to get to Church and after attending Sunday Mass, he gathered his friends to entertain them and share with them the Gospel message. At a young age, he heard God’s call to become a priest, for which he had to overcome many obstacles. When he was only 15 years old, he moved to the city having to work in a blacksmith shop, then as a tailor, a waiter, a pin-boy in a bowling alley, a shoemaker – anything to be able to pay for the expenses of living in the city to study for the priesthood.
After his ordination he discovered a special calling to minister to at risk children and teens in the juvenile halls. He started the Oratories for young people where he taught them with patience and love, helping many youngsters not only to turn away from violence but to become saints. A good example is Saint Dominic Savio, a fourteen year old who also became a real superhero.
John’s superpowers included the gift of healing. After asking for God’s help in prayer, the deaf heard, the lame walked, and once, a dead boy was raised to life. He had also had the gift of prophecy. He could read consciences, and used this gift to help people in confession. He could even know one’s vocation, as well as one’s future.
He worked so much that people always told him to stop and have some rest, to which he said, “First tell the devil to rest, and then I’ll rest too.” John’s mission is still at work today. The community of brothers and priests that he started has about 17,000 members all over the world. He also started a community of sisters and missionaries. This spiritual family is called the Congregation of Saint Francis de Sales known as the Salesians.
Pope Pius XI said, “In Don Bosco, the extraordinary becomes ordinary.” He lived out the main calling we all have: TO LOVE. After almost 200 years of his birth, we see in him an example of how God can use us to spread His love in the world through our ordinary lives. Who do you look up to? You can also become a real superhero…