Sharing the Beauty of God with ‘Fresh Energy and Imagination’
When I launched this blog two years ago today, I noted that what I planned to do with it was to “talk about our Catholic faith, what it teaches, why it is important, certainly to me, and why, I hope, it would be important to you.”
The blog’s title – Seek First the Kingdom – comes from the challenge of Jesus to his disciples to keep our hearts focused on God’s presence in our lives (see Matthew 6:25-34). It is also reflective of the motto I took as bishop, “Thy Kingdom Come,” which is what we pray for in the “Our Father.” It was my expressed desire that “in this digital world we will have an opportunity, as Pope Benedict XVI once said, ‘to meet each other beyond the confines of space’ in a way that we might create ‘an entirely new world of potential friendships.’”
Pope Francis touched on this same theme of encounter with the publication of his Message for World Communications Day 2014 on January 24, the memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, patron saint of communicators. The Holy Father noted that in a world where too many people are suffering from division, poverty, exclusion, marginalization and conflicts, new developments in media can help us greatly.
“In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all. Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity. The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another. . . The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.”
Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, Pope Francis observed, “is also a parable about communication. Those who communicate, in effect, become neighbors. The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him… Communication is really about realizing that we are all human beings, children of God.”
As we navigate through the media today, we will find “a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope,” the pope said, and it is “not enough to be passers-by on the digital highways, simply ‘connected;’ connections need to grow into true encounters.” What we need is “an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people.”
The Church’s communications in particular, our Holy Father stressed, could and should bring Christ’s light to the world and help people be “loving and merciful neighbors to those wounded and left on the side of the road. Let us boldly become citizens of the digital world.” Social networks also offer a way “to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ,” he added.
In this, my anniversary blog, I echo Pope Francis’s words, a call for us to seek Christ and bring him to the world through all our communications efforts: “The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God.”