PS 145:10-11, 12-13R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
Dear fellow pilgrims,
Today is the feast day of St. Luke, who is best known for writing his Gospel and the book of Acts, which details the days of the emerging Church. These books together comprise almost a fourth of the New Testament, which is not a trivial contribution! St. Luke was also a close companion of St. Paul, and is mentioned in several of his letters, so it’s clear he was very involved in early Christian missions. The Holy Spirit had a very special role for him as one of the four Gospel writers, and this – if you take some time to think about it – was probably a call that began as a very small inclination to write these things down that grew into quite the enormous task, which then led to a global impact he could never have dreamt of. St. Luke was, as the responsorial psalm proclaims, a “friend who made known the glorious splendor of His Kingdom.”
What strikes me more and more as I read about St. Luke is how attentive and thoughtful this man must have been, especially to the Blessed Mother, who is featured much more in Luke’s Gospel than any of the others. (If it wasn’t for the details St. Luke provided of the Visitation, we probably wouldn’t even say the Hail Mary!) He heard the call of the Holy Spirit to be a vessel and interpreter of these divine, earthly happenings, as a kind of appointed treasurer of nascent Christianity. I think it is definitely worth our time to contemplate the gifts of such a character, and how the age we live in presents unique challenges to treasuring our own lives. For we should desire to preserve the treasure of our life and pilgrimage with God for our own understanding and instruction as we follow Him during this life, but also for future generations to understand how He has worked wonders in our specific circumstances and time.
We live in a world where our lives are able to be constantly documented and selectively uploaded to share with others for comment and affirmation. While there are merits to this system of life documentation (e.g. I’m so glad my iPad keeps and organizes my photos of Leo as a baby because then… I don’t have to), I think it also does some damage to the way we think about our memories and how we live our own, unrepeatable lives.
For one, we can lose our grip on personal ownership of our lives. If we constantly have the opportunity to post about our lives, we will begin to get into the habit of seeing the moments of our lives through the lens of our social media followers, thinking about how other people will react to things we post, crafting the way we tell a story for the maximum impact in the type of persona we want to project or leaving out details that would reflect a person we would rather not have others see. This view can slowly eat away at what should be our primary focus of sanctification, that is, learning to live in closer and closer communion with God, living more and more within the heart of God that is reserved for your eyes only. He thirsts for your attention and affection, and no one else but you can quench that thirst.
Secondly, we can learn to see others in a more utilitarian way, as in, value others more of what they provide to us (e.g. “Unfollow – boring feed. Follow – exciting feed.”) rather than the intrinsic goodness and likeness of God in which they were created. When there’s so much of our own choice involved with what and who we see on our feeds, as well as how we interpret the little information we receive from a visual and text rather than interpersonal communication, it can be easy to slip into uncharitable thoughts and assumptions about others or ourselves, depending on who is getting the short end of the comparison stick.
To bring this all together, let’s revisit the psalm. We Christians should be a people whose discourse is Kingdom-focused, people who are more interested in God’s work than any other economical, political, or entertainment work. This outward focus, however, begins with an inner focus on your individual relationship, work of sanctification, and destiny with God. We bless the Lord when we take care and time to remember, write down, and share with others the works of His hands. When it is a gift given to others to specific friends to cherish and care for, to really receive in an intimate way that is vulnerable and risky instead of publicizing the gift and longing more simply to be seen and acknowledged. And when we take the time to invest in friendships beyond our screens, we will truly know the splendor of the Kingdom. There just is not a substitute for presence, for true presence with God and other believers, as anyone who has been to a Frassati retreat knows! In this Presence – when we worship and gather – we find ourselves, we are formed, we are encouraged, we are seen, and we truly see others.
I encourage us all to rethink our relationship with social media or our internet browsing, even if it’s the two thousandth time we have done so. (*raises hand*) God always wants more of us, and often times, we do not understand this truth enough to remove what hinders us to give more of ourselves to Him.
We often have that vague feeling of not being satisfied with the use of our time, but still finding ourselves slip into old habits. Here is a piece of my journal that describes a breakthrough God gave me in prayer about my own struggles with properly using social media. I pray it will bless you as you think and pray about treasuring your life more and more in the presence of God and not the world:
“…when I seek companionship and attention and entertainment from social media, Your Heart hurts for me because You see the longing in my heart and want to give me true food, true drink. You long to satisfy me, but You submit to my own will in that You don’t force me to look at You. For the first time, I see my struggle through Your eyes. It became less about my failings and more about the reverence You give to my freewill and how the source of my desire is meant to be filled by your according to Your designs. I give my own sin too much power when I see my continued habits that do not reflect the fullness You want for me as just my own failings.”
St. Luke, pray that we may learn to see more and more clearly the treasure of the Lord’s work in our lives as an unfolding love story meant to be shared and praised among the faithful.