By JENNIFER BURGIN
Jesus said to the crowds “When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?"
Whenever a rain storm approaches, my allergies flare up. My nose transforms into a weather vane indicating the direction of the winds, predicting the onset of storm activity. I sneeze and cough as my head pounds from the change in barometric pressure. Feeling lethargic, I say to myself: Come on, Mother Nature! Just rain and clean out this air! I feel miserable, and everyone around me thinks I'm getting sick.........
Appearance of the earth and sky I imagine our Lord, after his sermon, silently praying on the mountain top. Rain clouds form high in the sky showering his head with water droplets. Jesus is annoyed by the crowds lack of understanding and frustrated they are experts in the weather, yet ignorant of the faith. Jesus wants his children to love one another and care for one another. He wishes for them to let go of sin (i.e. pride, lust, vanity) and live a holy life. He hopes they will finally believe he is the Messiah - God in human flesh sent to convert and heal his Chosen people.
In modern day life, we often choose wrong over right. We "value" concupiscence over chastity; anger over love; ignorance over knowledge; and even murder over life. Many of us live in our own weather-related "bubbles" with heavy storm clouds following us wherever we go. If the sunshine does slip through every once in a while, it's difficult for us to tan ourselves under its brilliant rays. Why don't we desire a blast of Vitamin "G" (God!) to get ourselves back on track? It's easier to remain pale and withdrawn, wallowing ourselves in our own personal dramas, than to open our hearts to Christ.
Present time Social media promotes self expression and individualism but in ways that can damage us. Yes, social media is good in many respects. We are given access to information much more quickly. However, the rise of pride, vanity, and sensuality is a side effect. Twenty years ago we'd never imagine a teenager building his self-esteem based on how many "likes" on Facebook or followers on Twitter. We never considered young women advertising their bodies on YouTube with the question "Am I pretty?" We never considered terrorist groups recruiting followers over wikis and underground Internet websites. It's as if social media has created a more narcissistic culture. It's all about me, myself and I; how I can be better than someone else; how I can look more attractive and more successful than another person; how I can be more anti-religious and more radical. Qoheleth's words from Ecclesiastes "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" come to mind when I think about the effect of social media on our secular culture.
Don't live in weather "vain" Despite a secular culture, and obsession with online social presence, we don't have to live in weather "vain"! We can decide to turn away from selfishness, and our egos, focusing more on living like Christ. We can love and pray more. We can be truthful and forthright. We don't have to hide behind the clouds, masking our true selves from the world. We don't have to wait until an earthquake or a tornado to help someone in need. We don't have to wait for the floods to come, washing away all of the filth and stench in our lives. We can make a conscience effort to positively impact the world through religious faith. I'm convinced that if people were less self-absorbed and more focused on God some of our social problems would disappear. Something to think about....
In this transition from summer to autumn, at least her in North Texas where the leaves aren't quite crimson yet and the rain is sparse, let us reflect on how we can allow Jesus to be more present in our lives. Remember to use social media in ways that evangelize and spread the good news. As Pope Francis recently commented: "The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people." People can positively impact the world!
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin. Please visit her blog: Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality