It was another silly question popping up in a wandering conversation.
“What superpower would you like to have?”
Avoiding the selfish fun things like invisibility or telepathy, it had to be something for the good of others.
I recalled the comic book heroes of my youth.
There was Superman, with his lightning speed and that cool freezing thing he could do with his breath.
There was the invincible armor of Iron Man, the web-casting captures of Spider Man, and Thor’s giant hammer of justice.
But the only one I could really identify with was The Hulk and his anger-management issues.
So, if not a trait of a superhero, what power would I choose?
I thought of becoming a healer — one that gets it as a gift, of course, not one who undergoes years of arduous training.
It would be awesome to touch someone and cure their disease, remove their pain, close a gaping wound, or restore a deteriorating joint.
I thought of Jesus going about Galilee “healing all manner of sickness” — the lame, the lepers and the blind.
But healing like Jesus would be an even farther reach for me than the multi-powered resume of Superman.
I wanted something sorely needed, but also a viable option in the real world.
What about the ability to say the right thing, to know what another person needs to hear when they are suffering?
With this superpower, I would know how to comfort a parent who has lost a child.
I could engage with a teenager who hates his parents, his life, his self.
My words might bring a few rays of light into someone’s darkened world of depression.
With the power to know what another person needs to hear, I might guide someone out of loneliness without those promises which the world cannot keep.
I might convince someone that they are not defined by their failure, their looks, or their lack.
Knowing what is best to say, I would know when it is best to say nothing, when no words can console, and the only response is presence.
But this superpower seemed as far-fetched as any that a comic’s character might possess, until I heard again the Sermon on the Mount.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit ... those who mourn ... the meek ... the merciful ... the pure of heart.”
Living these Beatitudes, we will come to know another’s pain, and better understand what to say, or not to say.
It’s not a superpower, after all, just another blessing.