Practical Evangelization without Twitter
When the World Wide Web first went public, one of the admonitions to its users was remember when you post something on the World Wide Web, it can be read by the whole wide world. It is one of the reasons why Twitter is the worst tool to use for religious messages.
The book of proverbs to St. Paul’s writings include admonitions of not speaking to people who are not open to the prophecy of God or the Gospel message and if Twitter existed then, everyone would mention it by name. The reason why is that usually what happens next is an intense backlash against the person who wrote the tweet. Likewise, the Bible warns that when we communicate certain things to outsiders such a backlash is bound to happen.
Recently, a priest used twitter to tell women not to wear dresses to church that expose their shoulders. The backlash was so great that he closed his account and opened another one virtually anonymously. I used to work with a great Puerto Rican nun. I could imagine her saying to him, well then, father, do not go to Puerto Rico. But more well known is that a bishop tweeted that Catholics should not attend certain recent public events because they are against Catholic faith and morals. Likewise, the backlash was huge. Jesus himself said not to communicate the Gospel that way.
Here is the reason why and we can see it in the Gospel reading.
Jesus sends out the 72 to preach his Gospel. First to whom is he sending the message: to Jewish sinners of all kinds. How do I know? Because that is the population to whom he spoke. He made it clear that if you did not consider yourself a sinner, then he would not waste his time with you. However, he sent the 72 out to sinners in the Jewish community. They cast out demons, that means they dealt with people who practiced different forms of idolatry and the occult against the first commandment.
They healed the sick who had no financial power to go to doctors or the doctors were unable to cure their diseases if they did have money. They converted sinners. Notice what they did. The first thing they did was demonstrated the power of God and not by striking people dead. They showed the power of God by taking those actions, some miraculous, that led people to understand that God is a god of love and that He cares about His people. Then they called them to repentance by inviting them to come to understand that God’s kingdom has come among us and this was the sign.
If we were to understand Jesus’ method of preaching, notice it is first to communicate God’s love for each person, God’s power over all that can oppress someone and God’s call to a new way of being. It is so powerful that the 72 disciples celebrate that even the demons are subject to them. However, Jesus says that what is most important is that their names are written in Heaven, that is greater than seeing the power of God.
No one can do that by sending a simple message on Twitter or writing one paragraph in a bulletin.
Do you know that each one of us have the mission to testify to the Risen Christ and the anthropology that he teaches. Jesus teaches a whole different way of being than what the world teaches and that anthropology includes eternal life in Christ. We are called to testify to that way of being which we call holiness. It is coming to understand that we are children of the one true God, loved so much by him that his son rescued us from imminent destruction that our race ultimately creates on itself due to original sin. How do we do that if we do not live the Gospel and lead others to know it equally?
Many people believe that God hates them because no one is telling them that God loves them and is calling them to a whole new way of being, which begins by turning from sin. What is sin, it is anything that separates us from knowing God, that is a long list.
Who is the worst of all sinners? If you asked St. Mother Teresa, she would say herself. Many of the saints would have done the same.
We have a mission and a mandate as members of the Catholic Church to do all we can for the salvation of souls. People cannot be saved by a God they believe hates them, but at the same time, people cannot be saved by telling God they will only accept him or their terms. Our role is to be witnesses for this God whose will it is that all are saved. Our role is teach of Christ by first coming to know him and being docile to His grace of love, holiness and conversion. We do that by being people in daily communication with Christ by praying.
In light of the Tweets mentioned earlier: The Church teaches that every Catholic is called to live a chaste life. Can you define chastity? Well, before you answer, the Catechism of the Catholic Church uses 14 paragraphs to define and describe chastity, that does not fit into a tweet. Go look it up.
You and I have a mandate to live the same mission as the 72 disciples. We first come before the Lord in humble worship and then live the Gospel in a way that even without saying a word we preach the gospel. What is the message we speak to others? God loves them and calls them to a new way of being in Christ. Further, left to our own devices we humans with the best of intention will make serious errors that undermine our ability and desire to create the world we want to live in. That is why we need a savior for we cannot create utopia on our own.
Jesus comes to us Himself in the Eucharist to nourish us so that we may have the grace to complete this monumental task. That is why the Church calls us to be of the right disposition to receive the Eucharist for it is powerful nourishment for a monumental task.
Even the demons are subjected to each one of you by the way, but what is most important is to do all you can to communicate Christ’s message that he will say to you: Well done my good and faithful servant while showing you the part you played in the salvation of many souls. But don’t use Twitter and do not applaud priests and bishops who do.
Photo Credit: Alliance Internationale