A reading from the letter of St. Paul to Social Media:
Paul, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, with his well-intentioned but often-dim-witted scribe, Mike,
To all friends and followers on social media.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you. (1)
I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to the left,” or “I belong to the right,” or “I belong to the traditional” or “I belong to the new.” Is Christ divided? Was an ideology crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of a political party? (2)
You speak of “us” and “them.” You say that “they” are the source of “our” problems. You beseech the Lord to enlighten “them” to be more like “us,” and you thank God that you and those who think like you are on the right side of history, unlike “they” who are sinners. (3)
Have you not heard that we are all members of Christ’s body?
For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither liberal nor conservative. There is neither progressive nor traditional. There is not social justice warrior nor culture warrior. There is not elite, nor privileged, nor under-privileged. There is not white, nor person of color, nor class. There is neither citizen nor illegal. Neither are there “those like us” nor “those people,” for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are God’s child, heirs according to the promise. (4)
So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as some non-believers do, in the restlessness of their minds; darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart, they have become callous and have handed themselves over to unruliness for the practice of every kind of evil to excess.
That is not how you learned Christ. You should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.
Therefore, putting away rumor, condescension, innuendo, and insult, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, and do not leave room for the devil. No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for the building up one another, that it may impart grace to those who hear. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, mocking, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. (5)
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them. For such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent. Do not believe those who promise greatness by worldly means. So that while your obedience be known to all, I want you to be wise as to what is good and disassociated from what is evil; then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. (6)
Many of you have abundant gifts in the use of social media. Some are writers, others vloggers, memers, twitchers, tweeters, IGers, YouTubers, content creators, curators. Some observers, some commentators, some fact checkers, some professionals, some amateurs, some entrepreneurs. Some excel at finding and sharing good content, some at deconstructing fake news. Some are gifted at keeping us aware of important issues of the day. Some of you refresh our spirits with humor, inspiration, or encouragement. I encourage you to strive to perfect your talents for the glory of God and work eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.
But I will show you a still more excellent way. (7)
If I post moving, intellectual, or humorous content that is up-voted, liked, and shared but do not have love, I am a ringing gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift to recognize injustice and highlight iniquity and hypocrisy;
If I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I raise awareness and funds for notable causes so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude,
It does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered,
It does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
Love never fails.
If there are opinions and rhetoric, they will be brought to nothing;
If news of great happenings, they will cease;
If knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
If new technologies and inventions, they will come to naught.
For we know partially and we speak partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as on a screen, but then we will see face to face.
At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (8)
I adjure you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the brothers.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (9)
1 Philippians 1: 1-4
2 1 Corinthians 1: 10-13
3 Luke 18: 9-14
4 Galatians 3: 26-29
5 Ephesians 4: 17-32
6 Romans 16: 17-20
7 1 Corinthians 12: 8-11, 31
8 1 Corinthians 13: 1-11
9 1 Thessalonians 5: 27-28
Mike Tenney has spent the past 15 years speaking, teaching, and leading worship and retreats for youth and young adults of various backgrounds and faiths. Mike has been a featured musician and speaker for national, regional, archdiocesan, and parish events including the Couples for Christ National Youth Conference, Catholic Underground, Life Teen XLT's, Theology on Taps, and Christ in the City. He has shared the stage and worked alongside Matt Maher, Jason Evert, Steve Angrisano, Jesse Manibusan, and Chris Padgett. Mike’s writing has been featured by The Holy Ruckus and Grotto Network. You can find more about Mike and his ministry including online talks at www.MikeTenneyMusic.com and follow him @pkMikeyT.