Social media has become a staple in our culture. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are the main means of communication for many. We use it for social interaction, news, political debates, as well as keeping in touch with family and friends. Admittedly, I use it frequently, and it helps to fulfill some of my need for social interaction. However, most of us can remember when there was more person-to-person interaction. We miss the days of the random phone call and personal visits with friends; the transition to social media and less face-to-face dialogue has been difficult. I have turned to God in prayer to help myself with this cultural transition over the last couple decades since I grew up before the rise of the internet and cell phones.
The Pope on Evangelizing
Pope Francis understands the importance of face to face communication when we evangelize. When he visited my own city in 2015 for the “World Meeting of Families”, it was a wonderful celebration not just for the City of Philadelphia, but for the world. People came together from all walks of life to celebrate the gift of the family and the gift of the Church to the world. It was a joyful experience when my family and I had the opportunity to participate in the Mass by Pope Francis on Benjamin Franklin Parkway with almost a million people. The pope stressed the importance of family and of personal evangelization. This same theme was also explained in his “General Audience” in Rome, on May 22, 2013:
“To evangelize…it is necessary to open ourselves once again to the horizon of God’s Spirit, without being afraid of what he asks of us or of where he leads us. Let us entrust ourselves to him! He will enable us to live out and bear witness to our faith, and will illuminate the heart of those we meet.”
Pope Francis is speaking about the importance of face-to-face communication and reaching out to others in love. Each of us has a “family of origin” and relatives, but we are all part of the human family within our world. God’s spirit is among us and the Lord calls us to evangelization through love and service. The World Meeting of Families and the special “Year of Mercy” which we just celebrated calls us to reach beyond ourselves and meet others in real friendship.
We are all travelers on a path with God headed towards eternity. Our Lord offers us the best path to reach our final destination which we hope to be Heaven. Our human relationships are important since every human being is made in the image and likeness of God. When we become more acquainted with God’s children, we become more acquainted with God. The path with God will lead us toward other human beings for real communication and friendship. This is also why face-to-face interaction with others is so vital for our happiness. We can have joy on earth as we develop strong and loving connections with others through the Lord. Pope Francis made this statement a few years back:
“Man is like a traveler who, crossing the deserts of life, thirsts for the living water: gushing and fresh, capable of quenching his deep desire for light, love, beauty, and peace. We all feel this desire! And Jesus gives us this living water: he is the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and whom Jesus pours out into our hearts. –General Audience, St. Peter’s Square, May 8, 2013.
As the Holy Father stated, “we all feel this desire” which is a desire for the Spirit of God which in turn brings us “light, love, beauty, and peace”. Face-to-face interaction and relationships are part of human existence. Social media is a good thing, but let us use it for good to bring God to the world through real-life human interactions. This is not an easy task in light of our current culture, but with God beside us and within us it can be accomplished. It will take work, but this work is worth the effort of bringing more faith to the world.
Our world desperately needs God. So many suffer from depression, loneliness, addiction and other life tragedies. We ask God to give us the strength through the human virtue of humility to help us to show the world how much God loves them. Let us offer a prayer to God for his help in this area:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your love and mercy. Thank you for the graces we received during the “Year of Mercy” instituted by Pope Francis. Help us to evangelize others through the gift of the human family by reaching beyond ourselves in real human relationships. Help us to use social media as a good to show the love of God to the world. Amen