I’ve been suffering.
I’ve been suffering from something that I caught through the rants, ridiculing, and general rancor of social media. Symptoms include feverish disgust and the malignant, aching fatigue of discontent. The continuous bitter taste of discouragement is also experienced with this ailment, along with the lightheadedness of prideful disdain. The cause of this illness is a contagion that is easily spread through the internet, seeping through fingers and thumbs into the eyes and minds of fellow users who then spread it even further. This is not something that you’re going to hear about on local or world news, because much of journalism has also become contaminated and, indeed, seems to profit from the sickness that ensues, as the afflicted become more and more enthralled by divisive arguments and scenes of mayhem.
Yes, I admit it — I think I’m being clever here. But the analogy isn’t deceitful or inaccurate. It’s very telling of our current political and religious climate, social interactions through technology, and human behavior in general. And it is very, very true that I have been suffering. I’m not the only one. Countless people are falling victim to disdain, divisiveness, and disgust and don’t even know it. Yes, falling victim. Reading my Twitter feed, I have often felt a creeping kind of horror, like the enormous jaws of some invisible beast are opening wide and ordinarily goodhearted human beings, with their careless shares, sarcasm, or righteously bombastic words, are falling in one by one. Sometimes in hordes.
Here, I was going to cite some specific postings and tweets that have disturbed me, but that felt too much like finger-pointing. It suffices to say that we humans know how to cut others down with our words. In the name of the pro-life movement, we are not only willing to vote for politicians who demean and debase others on social media, but we are also quite willing, it would seem, to champion that kind of behavior by committing it ourselves, disrespecting the inherent sanctity of every person with our clever putdowns and even prejudice. The pro-life community is becoming divided, and I fear that it’s like the devil having his way as pride, greed, envy, and wrath grow in our hearts.
I’ve been falling victim….
It is, sadly, very human to cast aspersions in our minds, to be quick to judge and generalize. But when what we think in our private moments of demeaning anger — moments that usually scurry past in a frenzy before our better angels come to bring us to reason, kindness, and mercy — becomes what we choose to share with our fellow human beings, then we verge into real sin. Yes, sin. That’s not something that I often talk about with others, but it is something that I’m becoming more and more conscious of in myself. I’m seeing more clearly, as a result of this social media contagion, how sin affects my mind and my heart, and so, yes, my soul.
I’ve been suffering.
So has Christ.
The Heart of It All
Images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus show a tortured heart, torn and burning. What is torturing the Heart of God, God in the flesh who is both human and divine? Sin. There are the grave and horrible sins of murder, destroying human life, killing individual humans who are made in the image and likeness of God. And then there are the subtle and demoralizing sins of heartless speech, tongues and typing fingers tearing down the God-given dignity of our fellow human beings.
Jesus told us, “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.”[i]
Christ isn’t asking us to coddle murderers, of course not. And He doesn’t want us to say nothing when innocent people are being harmed. But how shall we treat them? What words shall we use when speaking out the truth?
Let’s turn to Jesus for the answer: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”[ii]
Love is always the answer.Let’s embrace the divine love given to us and so share that love with others in all that we do, say, and type — even with, especially with, those who may be unloving. For only love draws the human heart to Him who is Love Incarnate, converting sinners while spreading the divinely merciful salve of salvation on all who suffer from the contagion of sin. Divine love is the vaccine. Divine love is the cure.
Prayer in Action
During the month of June, which is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I, inspired by @thewomaninthetrees, prayed a novena for Christians to bear loving witness to love. I kicked the dust of Twitter off of my sandals, no longer reading feed, and prayed for all of us Christians that we may love with our words on social media, at work, and among our families and friends. I’m continuing the prayer every Friday for nine weeks and sharing reflections here with you. May this truly be a summer of love, healing the wounds that divide us from one another and from the merciful heart of Christ.
My Lord and my God, help all Christians to live and move and speak in self-sacrificing love, real love — for You are love. When true knowledge of You, oh God, is proclaimed respectfully in gentleness and strength, in mercy and generosity, may all hardened hearts be softened by the truth of divine love and the virtue of humility, so that every child — in every stage of development, age, disposition, and walk of life — may be truly recognized and cherished as a Child of God.
© 2020 Christina Chase
[i] Matthew 5:21-22
[ii] Matthew 5:43-45
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.