Our kids need heroes, we are told. I remember listening to a keynote address at a writer’s conference years ago by a children’s editor of a well known publishing company. “Our children today need two things,” she told us, “And you need to include these two things in what you write for children. Children of today need hope and they need heroes.”
Yet, what is the definition of a hero? For many children, a rock star, athlete or Hollywood actor typecasts the image of a hero. They are someone the child looks up to, someone the child dreams of becoming. After the terrorist attacks, the term “Hero” was lifted to a new level as we lauded those who gave their lives to save others.
This week, the children of our world can see another kind of hero. When the gunman of Virginia Tech started his rampage through Norris Hall, Liviu Librescu, an elderly professor, barred the door with his body so students could escape out a window before Librescu was shot to death through the door. Dennis Miller describes how Librescu, a Holocaust survivor, “saw the face of evil” at 12 years old when he was taken to a concentration camp and when he saw that same “dead shark” look of evil again on Monday, April 16th, he walked toward it and tried to stop it.
That is the essence of a hero. Someone who is willing to walk toward the face of evil in order to stop it so others might be saved. As teachers, we stop evil in many different ways. We teach children the wisdom of God so they can live righteous lives. We teach them how to stand up in their souls against the forces of evil they face on every side. We teach them how to conquer the temptations of evil within their own being. And if necessary, like Librescu, we stand in the way of evil, even walking toward it so they may be safe.
As church leaders, we take one giant step further. We point them to the Ultimate Hero who saw the face of evil, walked toward it in His Incarnation, and stretched out His arms at Calvary to stop it forever – so that we could escape into eternal life.