What would Jesus make of social media?

The best answer I have come up with is this: do good with it where you can

One of the best teachers I ever had would often, if not always, say at some stage in his lecture, with an element of exasperation in his voice that he knew nothing. I can still see him up at the blackboard saying: “I know nothing.” That same man is highly intelligent. The story goes that a woman walked into a church one day when he was celebrating Mass. She looked up towards the altar, recognised him and out loud said: “The brains of Cabra.”

Philip Gleeson infused in his students a great curiosity for the subject he was teaching. After all, he was only following in the footsteps of St Thomas Aquinas (AD 1225-1274), who in his old age said that all his works were like straw. Aquinas is considered one of the great theologians of the church, who was made a doctor of the church in 1567.

When reading tomorrow’s Gospel (Mark 9: 2-10) I am reminded of my lecturer. Jesus was opening new doors to his disciples but they, in their innocence or ignorance, sometimes missed the point.

When Jesus takes on a new persona, it confuses Peter, James and John, and in their confusion they suggest making three tents, one for him, one for Moses and one for Elijah. Peter is so frightened he does not know what to say.


I find great solace in tomorrow’s Gospel, as I do in the entrance hymn: “It is your face O Lord, that I seek; hide not your face from me.” (Psalm 109). That was written the best part of 3,000 years ago. The author is beseeching the Lord to make himself known. He wants answers, just as the apostles did on the mountain with Jesus.

The kindness, goodness and empathy of Jesus Christ give us a tiny hint into the reality of God

Maybe it is something in my DNA, my own background, the life I lead but I am dumbfounded when I hear people “explain” or talk with absolute certainty about the existence of God. Have they forgotten that Jesus often mystified his apostles? Does such certainty not run contrary to the story in today’s Gospel? Surely it must? The greatness and mystery of God cannot be conveyed by our words. They cannot be more than tiny pointers to the transcendence of that supreme being we dare call God.

In the first reading from Genesis we read: “God put Abraham to the test.” And again we see how Abraham got it wrong. Wouldn’t it be awful folly to think we have God in the palm of our hands, and we know the full story. That’s what the sin of idolatry is. I’m inclined to think everything we say and think about God has to be a type of fumbling about in our heads.

Nobody owns God and God is not the exclusive “property” of any one group. Christians believe Jesus Christ is God, and that puts flesh and blood on our understanding in faith of God. The kindness, goodness and empathy of Jesus Christ give us a tiny hint into the reality of God. The Jesus of the Gospel is a person who goes out of his way to be merciful and good, especially to the marginalised and less privileged.

We are in the early days of Lent, just one full week of it behind us. There is still time to set out a plan or roadmap for the next few weeks, setting aside some time for thinking about and in conversation with God, asking to be enlightened so that we can live better lives. Every time we genuinely reach out to the weak and marginalised, we are increasing and improving our faith in God. In copying Jesus’s care for the less fortunate, surely we are setting out on a personal pathway towards God?

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus wanted no fanfare? He warned his disciples that day on the mountain to tell no one what they had seen. Sometimes I ask myself what Jesus would make of social media. The best answer I have come up with is this: do good with it where you can. Isn’t it interesting how we are saturated with an all-knowing social media? A hint of humility might well prove a game changer in the current climate.