The Digital Age

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

People have many images for God, although no one particular image can fully describe or capture who God is. In his book, The Shack, William Young presents several unorthodox and non-traditional images about God. In this fictional novel the first and third persons of the Holy Trinity are certainly not portrayed in conventional ways.

When people think about God the Father the vast majority of individuals conjure up an image of an old man with the long grey beard, and the Holy Spirit is often portrayed in art depictions as a dove. Jesus, on the other hand, was a human being who entered into this world so images and pictures of him are more familiar and perhaps a bit more true to life, (long hair, beard, white tunic, olive/tan colored skin).

This I suppose is a little more historically accurate since Middle Eastern men do have beards, or at least some facial hair and their skin is dark. Young’s novel, however, depicts God the Father as a robust, smiling and heavy set black woman, while the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a young Asian woman with her hair blowing in the breeze. I am sure you will agree that these images are not the ordinary and run of the mill depictions were see in art work.  Jesus, on the other hand seems to fit the typical male Middle Eastern appearance.

The desire to know God is at the heart of every human being’s deepest wants and needs. We will never fully know God in this life because God is an infinite being and we are finite beings. This weekend we celebrate one of the central mysteries of Christianity, the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. We express it in our creed, where we acknowledge ONE GOD, BUT THREE DISTINCT PERSONS. We refer to it as a Mystery because we can neither explain, nor fathom how this can be, but we ascent to it in FAITH.

Faith in the 21st century is a challenge with so much information at out finger tips. We can find out many things instantaneously and quickly. Just look at our Presidential primary races, by 8:00 or 9:00 PM on any give state’s primary day, television anchors are able to announce the projected winner. Rarely do we have to wait until morning to find out who the winner is and as a society, we are consumed by social media, instant snap chat, twitter, face book, skype etc. It seems that we are always searching for information, friendship, confirmation, “likes,” etc. Many people do not even answer their phones, especially younger people.

Large numbers of people today send simply TEXTS, especially those under 40. It seems things are more visible than audio. We are attached to our phones. Does GOD TEXT? How does God send messages? 2000 years ago, God sent His only Son into the world to show us what God is like and how much God loves us. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit who is also sending us messages, some more subtle than others, but if we are attuned to God’s presence we will INDEED RECEIVE THESE COMMUNICATIONS FROM GOD! I propose that God does TEXT!

Let’s look around and see his text to us. How do we feel God’s presence and closeness, if we do not hear His voice? Two weeks ago we spent an entire week in gray, cold and rainy weather. Then on Saturday evening the sun came out and the sky was brilliant azure blue; people were refreshed and uplifted by this-God’s text of His warmth!

Iceland, Sweden and Finland beyond the Arctic Circle, the beauty of snow, ice and arctic Northern lights among the intense cold and darkness, yet one can still experience God’s beauty. A cool breeze, on an extremely warm day is a text that God is present. A kind and unexpected surprise from a friend, relative or neighbor could be a text of God’s mercy. The sacraments are a text of God’s grace and forgiveness.

The birth of a child is a text of God’s unconditional love and happy or joyful times are texts for the sign of eternal life. Last weekend we celebrated Pentecost, the Birthday of the Church. Perhaps the descent of the Holy Spirit was the first smart phone from God; faith is the wireless connection and maybe the celebration of this feast, the presence of the Holy Spirit alive and active in our world is God’s smart phone for us to feel the Holy Spirit through His texts.

Fr. Kevin’s letter appears each week in print and online in the St. Boniface Martyr Parish Bulletin.

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