2 Corinthians 5:6-10
I have to admit that I’ve stopped watching television news. It seems that whenever I turn on the cable news networks all I can find are segments on celebrities calling each other vile names on Twitter. I stay tuned during the commercial break only to discover that the next segment is not about the volcano in Guatemala or the deteriorating situation in Nicaragua but about pundits reacting to celebrity tweets.
As it turns out, I’m not alone. A recent Pew Center survey indicates that nearly 70% of Americans have grown tired of news coverage and its negative tone. The alarmism over “fake news” that has overtaken the world since the 2016 election has not helped. While we generally agree that free and unbiased news media are critical to the democratic process, we disagree that journalists are doing a good job of keeping us informed. No doubt, the constant negativity and criticism that are the fare of most news programs can drag down our spirits and dampen our hope.
Pondering these things before Mass last Sunday morning, a sense of relief came over me. There were no television screens on the altar flashing the words “Breaking News” on them. There were no updates on the latest celebrity tweets. My pastor’s homily was not interrupted by “a special announcement.” There was no news crawl running along the altar rail telling us what other pastors were preaching about. And there was no opportunity for the congregation to debate the contents of the homily.
I was reminded that what is most “relevant” is not what passes as news on our cable networks. Given our short attention spans, the issues that seem of greatest importance today become a distant memory tomorrow. Faced with this blizzard of information, our task is to keep the world’s focus on what really matters — the dignity of every woman and man. The real question to ask is not “What will the President tweet about this?” but, “How will this affect the most vulnerable among us and what should we do about it?”
Therefore, we need our pastors to address current events in the light of the Gospel. Especially in times such as these, we need a voice of reason to clear away the fog of deception and clarify what is at stake, especially where the poor and vulnerable are concerned. We need to hear the Church’s social teachings articulated to us in a way that empowers us to apply those principles to the challenges we face as citizens of a divided country.
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus speaks about the kingdom of God. It is in our midst and growing, though it is barely noticed. This in-breaking of God’s kingdom will not be breaking news on any cable network. However, it is the most relevant event of human history. To those who submit to it, this in-breaking Kingdom gives perspective to all the other events that take place, no matter how momentous they may seem at the time. The coming of Jesus Christ is the pivotal event of human history and his Second Coming is history’s final destination. And so we “stay tuned” to his word until that ultimate truth is revealed.
Douglas Sousa, S.T.L.
strengthen and direct, we pray,
the will of all whose work it is to write what many read,
and to speak where many listen.
May we be bold to confront evil and injustice:
understanding and compassionate of human weakness;
rejecting alike the half-truth which deceives,
and the slanted word which corrupts.
May the power which is ours, for good or ill,
always be used with honesty and courage,
with respect and integrity,
so that when all here has been written, said and done,
we may, unashamed, meet Thee face to face.
—A Prayer for Journalists