Mom: Hey girl, I need to run some errands. Wanna be my sidekick today?
Girl: You’re the one who gets me snacks, puts clothes on me, and cleans up after me. You’re my sidekick.
After the stunning revelation that I am my kindergartener’s sidekick, I had to sit down. It’s amazing! It’s important! It’s inconvenient! It’s beautiful! It’s true!
Everyone, by default, thinks of herself as the hero of the story, as the center of the universe.
It is only with great difficulty that actors check the box on the audition form, “I will accept any role offered to me.”
In many ways, the world does revolve around you: it’s hard to experience it in any other way.
Hard, but not impossible.
The apostles had the grace to know the truth: Jesus Christ is the hero of our story, and the rest of us make up a cast of villains, spectators, citizens-in-distress, well-intentioned but ineffective law enforcement agents, and sidekicks. In your lifetime, you might play all these roles, but hero status belongs to the Lord alone. The apostles saw Jesus healing the sick and driving out demons. They knew themselves to be His sidekicks.
St. Andrew deserved a prize for dealing with his sidekick status. He was way ahead of his brother Simon in recognizing Jesus, but Simon was the one given a special name and a special leadership role. It’s always Peter, James, and John. James and John were brothers who made it into the top 3; Andrew is the sibling left out at key moments (Transfiguration, Gethsemane, etc.).
I pray for his intercession whenever one child is inconvenienced by another, e.g., when the senior brother’s Karate practice ruins the junior’s chance at the pool.
At Cana, when Jesus changed water into wine, Andrew probably thought the miracle was meant to stoke the faith of the brand-new apostles. And it was! But it wasn’t just for them.
The wedding guests surely thought that the miracle was for them. And it was! But it wasn’t just for them.
Possibly, the miracle wasn’t even principally for the people at the party, but for the generations that came after. The miracle has strengthened my faith, at a distance of 2,000 years. That strengthening of my faith is also not just for me. Every miracle, sacrament, and grace I receive is meant to flow from God through me and back to God in the soul of another. The hero doesn't hand you a first-aid kit so you can admire it or feel appreciated.
Holy Ascension, Batman!
The hero of our story makes a seeming departure from the story 40 days after his defeat of the only true nemesis, that two-headed beast Sin and Death. What about the denouement? The victory is won, but isn’t there still a lot of work to do?
We must balance our relief that saving-the-day does not depend on us with great zeal to be about the things of God. Saints and theologians, of course, have said it better:
“It is necessary that the heroic becomes daily and that the daily becomes heroic.”
– St. Zelie Martin
“Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours…”
– Teresa of Avila
“The authentic saint is always the one who confuses himself with Christ the least, and who, therefore, can most convincingly be transparent to Christ.”
– Hans Urs von Balthasar
I wonder if the foolish bridesmaids in the parable were not motivated to keep their lamps ready because, well, they weren’t the bride. They underestimated their importance to the bridegroom, and they did not believe that their fate depended on their willingness to be faithful sidekicks.
Maybe this post wasn’t for you.
It’s possible that you didn’t need to read this today, but someone else in your life might need to hear it. That’s how things are in a world where you and I aren’t the heroes, but rather the redeemed Edmund Pevensies who are grateful to get to be Aslan’s sidekicks.
So share this post, or change a diaper with devotion, or text someone that you’ll say a Rosary
for her today (and then actually do it) – for we await our hero’s return, and may our lamps be burning brightly when he comes.