So too do all other electronic devices, you see.
As the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great brought forth a new lingua franca for evangelization (hello Greek New Testament!), and as the Roman Empire laid down the network of roads (which all led to Rome) for the first version of Christian evangelization, so now the infrastructure for the New Evangelization has been laid.
The New Evangelization is the old evangelization that still must be lived, and shared, with all. Now, though, it is no longer land locked, nor is it consigned to the whims and caprices of ships plying the Mediterranean, and the remaining six seas. No.
The photograph above reminds me of the first reading from Ezekiel a few days ago as the conclave begun, when he saw the temple with a trickle of water flowing out of the right side, facing East. Then the angel of the LORD starts measuring off distances from the temple, with Ezekiel trailing behind through water that began ankle deep, and wound up being an river wide, and deep.
In eight short years, we go from one hardy soul with a flip phone, to the throngs all having smart phones, taking pictures, and sharing a moment in history with their friends and family. Instantly. Content that is pushed, but like a river it may also be pulled from.
The photograph gives the lie to the idea of staying holed up in a fortress like Church, cut off from the world. Pope Francis knows that this idea of a modern day ghettoized Church is a non-starter, even before seeing the glaring evidence in the photograph above. He understands this, as evidenced from an interview he gave to the Vatican Insider a little over a year ago,
What do you make of the Pope’s decision to call for a year of faith and his insistence on the new evangelisation?
“Benedict XVI has insisted on the renewal of faith being a priority and presents faith as a gift that must be passed on, a gift to be offered to others and to be shared as a gratuitous act. It is not a possession, but a mission. This priority indicated by the Pope has a commemorative purpose: through the Year of Faith we remember the gift we have received. And there are three pillars to this: the memory of having been chosen, the memory of the promise that was made to us and the alliance that God has forged with us. We are called to renew this alliance, our belonging to the community of God’s faithful.”
What does evangelisation mean in a context such as that of Latin America?
“The context is that which emerged from the fifth conference of Latin American bishops, held in Aparecida, in 2007. It called us to undertake a continental mission, the entire continent is a missionary state. Plans were and continue to be made, but the paradigmatic aspect remains: all ordinary activities of the Church take place in view of the mission. This signifies very strong tensions between centre and periphery, between parish and district. We need to come out of ourselves and head for the periphery. We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a Church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a Church becomes like this, it grows sick. It is true that going out onto the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman. But if the Church stays wrapped up in itself, it will age. And if I had to choose between a wounded Church that goes out onto the streets and a sick withdrawn Church, I would definitely choose the first one.”
What is your experience of this in Argentina and in Buenos Aires in particular?
“We seek to make contact with families that are not involved in the parish. Instead of just being a Church that welcomes and receives, we try to be a Church that comes out of itself and goes to the men and women who do not participate in parish life, do not know much about it and are indifferent towards it. We organise missions in public squares where many people usually gather: we pray, we celebrate mass, we offer baptism which we administer after a brief preparation. This is the style of the parishes and the diocese itself. Other than this, we also try to reach out to people who are far away, via digital means, the web and brief messaging.”
And so yes, all phones can indeed be a conduit the Holy Spirit uses to lead someone to Rome.
Ain’t that grand?