Spider-Man Fought (Spiritual) Battles Too!
In the Lisieux House, even something as silly as watching Spider-Man is a cause for spiritual reflection! Earlier this year, a few of the Little Flowers and I watched the original Spider-Man trilogy with Tobey McGuire (our favorite Spider-Man) as Peter Parker.
In the third and final movie of the trilogy, Peter faces an opponent with an especially subversive approach.
The movie starts with a strange substance from outer space starting to attach to Peter’s Spider-Man’s suit. At first, this “venom” is easy for Peter to remove. At the same time however, the venom seems to give Peter new powers, and he slowly starts to depend on the dark strength he gains from its presence. Slowly, subtly, as he allows the venom to remain on his suit, the intensity of the venom’s attachment grows stronger and it becomes harder for Peter to remove it.
As he wears the suit, now fully inhabited by this strange substance, Peter changes as well; he sports a new edgy haircut, his inhibitions wither away, and his personality grows strange and erratic. Eventually, Peter becomes completely consumed by this venom, which twists his motivations and aligns his desires towards an evil purpose.
While watching the movie, I felt frustrated at Peter’s inability to see the slow impact the venom was having on his life. Yet I realized, it was in this very slowness the venom was able to gain on Peter unawares. At the point he realized he was being so affected, it was too late! What was once a tiny mar of venom now embodied his entire suit.
There was no way Peter could restore himself to himself; he needed help from the outside to remind him of who he truly was. Ultimately for Peter, this help did come in the form of Aunt May, his mentor and guardian. Yet it was painful to remove the venom from the suit. Peter had to literally rip it off himself, and it was physically exhausting for our hero.
In the Christian life, similarly, we sometimes struggle against evil spirits that try to tempt us towards hopelessness, distrust, or bitterness. These evil spirits may start as little thoughts at first, but they attempt to infiltrate our peace and threaten our hope. Over time, if we continue to entertain the lies of the enemy, it is harder to see what is true.
I recently found myself under the influence of the spirit of bitterness towards another person in my life. It was not a pleasant experience when I suddenly noticed how this seed of bitterness had grown in my heart in the previous few months. I realized its evil fruits had slowly infiltrated the way I thought and spoke about this particular person. Over time, I had allowed the spirit of bitterness to distort the reality of this person in my mind
Like Peter, the strength of my bitterness caught me unawares, and I needed help from outside of me to free myself from its influence. Thankfully, as baptized Christians, we have the authority to renounce evil spirits in the name of Jesus. Whenever we become aware of any spirit oppressing us, we can renounce it using a prayer like this:
“In the name of Jesus, I renounce the spirit of bitterness. I release the hold it had on my life, and I send it to the foot of the cross for Jesus to do with it as He wills.”
In our examination of conscience and prayer time, we can ask ourselves:
Who do I put my trust in? Do I trust the Lord in all things?
Where do I gain my strength from?
What is the narrative I have been speaking to myself, and what are its fruits?
Praise God for His unfathomable mercy and relentless pursuit of each of us. Our good Father is always knocking on the doors of our hearts. Will we be quiet and allow Him to remind us of the truth of who we are?