The First Reading today, from the first letter of Saint John, tells us everything we need to know about how to convert our friends on Facebook, Twitter, forums, blogs, and email forwards. Seriously. It does. It’s a step-by-step guide to evangelization in the time of social media.
Step 1: He who loves God should love his brother also.
People are almost never argued into conversion. What draws people to conversion is love and truth and beauty. Not a perfectly crafted zinger of a comment. Love.
So, if we really feel called to refute a particularly problematic post or link or comment, sure, have at it. But if we're so fired up that we aren’t capable of engaging that person with love and respect, it is ALWAYS better to just walk away from the screen.
Step 2: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.
So if it’s not finding just the right meme to crush the competition in a combox war, what IS the key to converting people through social media?
It’s being good Catholics ourselves. Period. In real life and in online life.
It’s following the commandments and striving to set a good example with everything we say and do and tweet.
Step 3: And his commandments are not burdensome.
And let’s have fun while we do it, m’kay? Our example of a joy-filled life, especially in the face of struggle and hardship, is a light in the darkness of our culture.
But we must KNOW and LIVE our faith in order to be able to help others come to know and love God. If someone we encounter has a question or a misunderstanding, we need to know the truth (or at least know where to find it) and then be able to share that truth with love and compassion.
Step 4: For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.
As believing Catholics, we can’t get caught up in panic or hysteria about Church teaching, or politics, or social issues. Because we know how this all turns out. We know that the gates of hell DO NOT prevail against us.
That’s not to say that we don’t pray and work and strive for truth and justice, we do. But we never give ourselves or our newsfeed over to despair. We pray and we hope and we don’t worry.
And we LOVE, We love, because He first loved us.
See ya on the inter webs, ladies.
Today, in our hearts and on our screens, let us choose to channel love.
Kendra Tierney can be found tending nine chickens, seven children, and one husband in Los Angeles, CA. You can find out more about her here.