This Sunday’s gospel from the twelfth chapter of Luke is like a mirror reflecting the current state of our society: Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division (Luke 12:51). We are rapidly becoming a distinctly divided country, and this division is based almost solely on a moral platform, especially as the evolving social media like Facebook and Twitter becomes a mouthpiece for personal viewpoints. And this makes life as an internet-savvy Catholic intense, historic and heroic all at once.
Have you ever been pounced upon by friends or followers for posting a pro-life comment? Did you incur the wrath of others by mentioning the presidential candidate you supported? You quite possibly could have taken a severe virtual beating for that one.
The first Luminous mystery of the holy Rosary, the Baptism of the Lord, is also a great illustration of the audacity it takes to be a faithful Christian in today’s society. Getting baptized at that point in time was a completely radical statement. You were clearly setting yourself apart in declaring your faith in God and it was contrary to what many people around that time stood for. How similar that is to being a Christian in today’s society and taking a stand for Christian beliefs in front of others who may not agree with you?
There have been many periods in history where people were living in this kind of situation. World War II and the Cristero Wars come immediately to mind because they were wars against faith in God. And although these types of wars are still happening even today in other countries—take Egypt for example where Christians are being savagely persecuted for their faith—here on the American front, the weaponry used to wage this war against Christianity is vastly different, yet can be just as powerful, thanks to social media. Every day, there are millions of tiny moral battles courageously fought on social media sites; pro-life vs. pro-choice, defense of marriage vs. gay marriage, atheism vs. belief in God, etc. So much so that now, more than ever, you must know who you are and what you stand for if you dare step in the social media arena, lest you get stoned to death by the venomous tweets and Facebook rebuttals hurled at you because you made a comment or disagreed with someone else’s point of view.
Seven years ago, there was no Twitter. No tweets, no hash tags, no “Twitter Revolutions.” In 2007, tech writer Bruce Sterling suggested in the New York Times that using Twitter for “literate communication” would be about as likely as firing up a CB radio and hearing some guy recite the Iliad.” But today, Twitter is one of the top ten most visited sites on the internet, generating over 340 million tweets daily, according to Wikipedia. And social media has definitely not been ignored by the Catholic Church. I think this is great, because the Church is using new media as a tool for evangelization. Our beloved Pope Francis sends regular tweets to the masses (@pontifex) and ABC News reports more than twenty Roman Catholic cardinals have active Twitter accounts, nine of whom were cardinal electors for the 2013 Papal conclave.
But the downside is the anti-religion, anti-God crowd has proclaimed all-out war on morality and Christianity. They’re out to get you, simply by turning these internet tools into ambushes resembling virtual war zones. The interesting thing is despite the efforts of millions of people who give their all to attack believers in social media, their actions are fulfilling Luke’s gospel message.
In the end, this gospel message is Christ’s way of, yet again, commanding us to pick a side to stand on, instead of cowering over by the wall in neutrality. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth (Revelation 3:16). Don’t be passive and say nothing, stand up for your belief in God and in moral behavior. Don’t be afraid of people who tweet stinging lexicons and hurl text grenades at you. As a Christian stepping onto the social media stage, put on the whole armor of God and be prepared to stand strong in your faith the same way Christ did as he stepped into the river Jordan to be baptized.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Twitter at @lisaduffy.