Jesus is Ant-Man! It hit me a few weeks ago after I watched the new Marvel movie Ant-Man that is in theaters. I came away thinking how amazing it was that this super hero gets stronger by becoming smaller! He can go places where no one else can by becoming tiny!
It brought to mind how Jesus came to earth as a human being inside of Mary’s womb and was probably even smaller than an ant at one point. Not only that but as a man, Jesus taught this way of smallness, meekness, and humility, and showing how this plays out ultimately by dying on a cross, and sacrificing himself for the world. But, Jesus didn’t stop at that. He literally becomes so small for us even now, in the Eucharist. In the bread, a tiny tasteless wafer, Jesus comes to us. He takes the bread and transforms it; he becomes so small in that moment. In this way he can go into the crevices of our very being, the places no natural food can go. He becomes small so he can give us himself completely, and in a way we can accept.
I remember hearing a priest say one time, “If Jesus didn’t hide himself in the Eucharist, we would be the ones hiding!” and it struck me then in that moment how true that is! If I went to Mass, and the time came to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, but I saw him in all his splendor and glory, I’m sure I would be struck with a feeling of complete unworthiness in his very presence, much less to receive him! I do not know if I would get close to that. Yet, Jesus knows this, which is why he becomes so small in the Eucharist, to the point of being overlooked or even an after-thought for most people. He becomes so small so we can receive him!
Even more so through this beautiful Sacrament we are called to imitate Jesus, the humble, the meek, and the small. As I was watching Ant-Man I couldn’t help but think that Jesus wants us to participate in his life of smallness. He wants us to become small too! John the Baptist’s famous line in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease”. We have to become small so Christ can live more through us! We have to take “the lowest place” (Luke 14:10), we have to “turn and become like children” (Matthew 18:3), knowing that “every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).
Today, when so many people need Jesus’ presence in their life, we have to become small so Christ can work through us and enter into the ‘hard-to-reach’ places of their lives, places where only the love of Christ can reach. This requires opening up, sacrificing time, even energy, and being vulnerable with people, so that they can see where God has worked, and where he is still at work in our lives. This humble vulnerability, this becoming small, is very much needed in the world today where people try to act as if they have no struggles or problems. People can feel so ashamed because they have struggles or weaknesses, and that is where we as Christians doing our “Ant-Man” thing have to show them that this is a part of the journey. As I have heard it put by a Catholic speaker, “it’s like one homeless person telling another homeless person where to get food." When we imitate Christ and become small we can slip into people’s lives but this means we have to decrease. This also means that Jesus can increase.