Why is it that so many adults, like me, enjoy cartoons? My favorites include the whole gamut of Loony Tunes, from Porky Pig to the Road Runner, from Daffy Duck to Bugs Bunny, from Foghorn Leghorn to Yosemite Sam. Cartoons, regardless of the ones which we watch, are one way for me and you to escape the bad news we hear every day of every week. We find refuge in virtual reality, where nobody really suffers, where nobody is really deceived, where nobody really dies. Would that we lived in the land of animation; however, we must be honest with ourselves: life on earth is no cartoon.
The account of Jesus’ temptation, always the Gospel for the first week of Lent, brings home the fact that, like the “Chosen People,” Israel, God’s only Son, too, was tempted by Satan. He, too, had to choose between life and death, good and evil. But he chose life and by his passion, death and resurrection, Jesus saved us from Satan and from the never-ending cycle of sin and eternal death.
Being Christian does not exempt us from exposure to evil. Even now, we have to struggle with this dark side of reality. Why? “Didn’t Jesus redeem the world?” Yes, but the Redemption is only now at the stage of first fruits, which means we still have to live with ignorance, suffering, concupiscence and death — and the results of these impediments result in what is reported so vividly by the news.
Some would identify my attraction to cartoons as an escape from reality; however, after 31 years of priesthood, I prefer to think of these entertaining creatures of animation as a respite from the reality of a world that sometimes looks more fallen than redeemed! After all, we live ina fickle imperfect world - where bad things stillhappen to good people, and this paradox willcontinue to baffle us and make us question our faith until Jesus returns in glory. Until then, we keep our focus on the Crucifix which must remain central in our lives – in or der to remind us that the death of Jesus was not
the end of the story — and his oblation of love was not vain. To the contrary, that Crucifix, which to non-believers looks gross and spells “death,” speaks volumes to us who believe about eternal life, a reality won for us by Jesus’ sacrifice of self in atonement for our sins in the on-going battle between Good and Evil. It elicits our desire to see what’s behind the Cross - and that, my friends, is the Resurrection, the final, definitive word of the Father who raised his Son to new life, liberating those who were in the abode of the dead, striking a blow to Satan’s attempt to usurp the omnipotence of God, and inaugurating the eternal life in the place we like to call “Heaven.” Yes, while we, who are trying to figure out “where is God” in the midst of tragedy, and turn to our favorite cartoons as an alternative to the depressing news, we discover that God is here, with us, in the glorified Christ, who sustains our hope in better days ahead by word and sacrament.
During Lent, the Church calls us to make a sincere re-commitment to God. Let us say “no” to death and the many minions of Satan. Let us say “yes” to eternal life and the sovereignty of God. Despite the tragedies which weigh on our hearts and which we may never fully explain, Jesus has given us hope (to grow in holiness), courage (to build the Kingdom founded on his Cross and Resurrection), and perseverance (needed to survive life on the other side of the cartoons).
Father Comandini is the managing editor of The Catholic Spirit