Wednesday of Week 11 in Ordinary Time
2 Kgs 2:1,6-14
“And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you”
In the 21st century reality that we live in, it is not uncommon for people to share their thoughts and feelings on the internet, specifically social media. Whether on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok, we can now access the innermost thoughts of our friends and acquaintances, alongside their latest escapades and shenanigans. Ironically, this explosion of social media can prove detrimental for our social and spiritual lives.
As the Korean-born German philosopher and theologian Byung-Chul Han argues: “Across the board, digital communication is abolishing distance and distances. The corollary of dwindling spatial distance is the erosion of mental distance. Digital mediality works to the detriment of respect. In contrast, isolating and setting apart – as in the adyton of ancient Greek temples – generates admiration and reverence. When distance proves lacking, the public and the private become confused”.
The public and the private become confused.
We must remember that even Jesus would go off into the mountains alone to pray. In today’s Gospel, our Lord is asking us to pray from the very depths of our hearts, in that silent place where God alone speaks to us. We are asked to pray as followers of Christ, not to pray in the presence of our Facebook ‘friends’ and Instagram ‘followers’. Certainly, our friends will benefit from our expression of our faith, and perhaps they too may be inspired to pray.
But silent and private prayer plays an even more important role of connecting our souls to God, and of shutting off the world and putting some distance between ourselves and this very noisy world, so that finally in the silence of our heart, we can hear what God wants to say to us.
When we succumb to the noise of social media, whether in terms of the endless scrolling on our phones at night (I will be the first to admit to this habit) or our tendency to share all our innermost thoughts on social media, we leave behind the reverence and respect that comes from true conversation (whether with God or with our loved ones) and replace it instead with the clamour and spectacle of the global coffeehouse.
God does not seek us out in the coffeehouse. He finds us in our own dark nights and in the long rolling fields within which we, as His lambs, often find ourselves lost. All we have to do is to quieten our hearts in a very unquiet world, and we will find our Lord waiting for us, to speak in that softest of voices of how much He loves us, and how much He wants to spend time with each of us, alone.
(Today’s Oxygen by Jacob Woo)
Prayer: Lord, we ask for faith and fortitude to continue seeking You in these times of calamity and instability.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank You for giving us the chance to spend time with You, even as we have to live our lives in social isolation. May we always remember that we live for You, and not for the world.