My Dear Sisters and Brothers! I am not here to analyse the impact of the electronic devices on our health, etc. Instead what I would like to do is to listen to and discern in the light of the Scriptures the insight which comes from this new situation. What does the Holy Spirit tell us when it is more common to see a person glued to his or her smartphone than having a face to face conversation?
Let me begin with what Jesus spoke in the Gospel. ‘Everybody who believes in me has eternal life.’ To appreciate this we need to put aside our modern understanding that eternal life happens after our death. Pope Benedict in his book Jesus of Nazareth reminded us that eternal life can be lived in the present age. What people find attractive in the virtual life is that they can escape the reality of everyday living or they can create their idealistic image.
It isn’t a new thing. In our First Reading, about the Prophet Elijah, we see that people faced similar things well before computers were invented. The Prophet who first proved that his God was the true God had to run away as the queen vowed to kill him for leading people away from her god. The prophet, who before brought fire from heaven, cowardly run away. It upset him so badly that when he realised his weakness, which he first despised in his compatriots, he wanted to die. He said to God: ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ However in the midst of his disappointment with himself and with his fellowmen and women he had to face it. The angel of God who appeared to Elijah didn’t come to make him feel better. The angel stepped into the social, emotional and spiritual misery of Elijah to give him food which would sustain the prophet on his journey to meet God on the mountain called Horeb. What happened on that mountain was one of the most profound encounters with God recorded in the Bible. However the reading for this Sunday doesn’t take us there yet. Instead we follow Elijah on his forty-day-journey as he is still burdened by the misery of his situation. That forty-day-walk of the prophet is something we can relate to. It is a heavenly gift to us. Most likely our life is not perfect like the life of Elijah was not perfect. However it is not the reason to run away into whatever the modern technology has to offer. Instead take the heavenly food consecrated and distributed at Mass: Jesus’ Body and Blood to continue your life with its various commitments.
During the Last Supper Jesus said: ‘Eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent.’ Who does know Jesus? The person, who takes up his or her cross and follows the Lord. Pope Benedict, in the mentioned book Jesus of Nazareth, reminded us that the first followers of Jesus Christ called themselves ‘the living.’ Believe Jesus, trust him, give your life to him and the eternal life will be yours here and now, you will be among the living and it will take you through the gate of death into the communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as Jesus said: ‘If anyone believes in me, even though he will die he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.’
The prophet Elijah is God’s gift to us to recognise that our dark moments are moments filled with God’s presence. We don’t need to substitute them with creating a virtual reality where we can pretend or show off. It is fake life and it is as destructive to us as the fake news is. Fake life on the net is fake news. Jesus Christ is the Good News. Jesus Christ is life. He is our Good News. He is our life.
If an average Australian spends every day 9 hours and 40 minutes on electronic devices imagine how much faith growing we would experience if we spent such amount of time praying, reading the Scriptures and contemplating it.