By Father Jacob Dankasa
Special to The Texas Catholic
We celebrate Pentecost to commemorate the action of the Holy Spirit as He stirs the people of faith and removes their fears, empowering them to live out their faith with pride. As people of faith, when we allow the Holy Spirit to stir us we fly without wings to become His instruments, to allow Him to use us to stir others to holiness. Living out our Pentecost answers a call to take action and live out our faith. As we celebrate Pentecost this month, I want to share some thoughts on how to live out our Pentecost experience in the modern world.
Although there are various ways of living out our faith in the spirit of Pentecost, I will focus on one particular way to demonstrate our faith — using social media, a refreshing trend that is changing the face of our society today. The social media today are the largest platforms for finding and interacting with thousands of humans in the shortest period of time without regard to geographical boundaries. Hence, there is arguably no better platform today for a broader outreach in evangelization than social media. Whether you succeed in evangelizing a soul or not is another issue. But never underestimate the power of trying!
Sharing pictures is one of the activities that users engage in on social media for many different good reasons, though there are some who tend to be uncomfortable when people frequently share their pictures, life stories or activities on social media. To some it is a kind of showing off; to others it is irrelevant. But for many who share it is an innocent sharing of their lives with a community of friends for fun, for socializing or for support. For whatever reason people share their pictures and life stories on social media, I believe they receive the gratification they desire, and it shouldn’t be taken away from them. By the way, one of the chief purposes of social media is to encourage sharing (I add: decent sharing). People should feel at peace sharing their lives with their friends in a way they feel comfortable with if it makes them happy.
Having said this, if you’re a person of faith, there is another good reason for sharing. I want to invite you to bring into social media an experience of Pentecost. As part of living out our Pentecost experience, I recommend that people of faith consider developing a practice of taking photos of themselves at beautiful locations around their church facilities as they attend weekend masses (or worship) and posting these photos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any social media they belong to. Let the world know that you are at church. This is not hypocrisy — this is not mere showing off — this is evangelism. The world should know how much you cherish your faith and how proud you are of the God you serve. No shame, no regrets! If there is anything to show off, let your God be first.
If we’re all convinced of Who we worship, then we must demonstrate that we belong to Him. And no place can be more appropriate for showcasing this today than the social media. One thing is certain: I may not be able to see inside your heart, but what I see from the outside can either lead me toward God or away from Him. You cannot know how much influence you may have on others and what the Spirit can do through you on social media. Don’t undermine (or underestimate!) the work of the Holy Spirit, because He lives — even on social media! You never can tell how many people will begin to go to church because you motivate them to, especially as we gradually open up our church pews after the COVID-19 lockdown. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” they say — never underestimate the power of an image. Many people don’t have the courage to publicly demonstrate their faith, but that is what the Holy Spirit has come to help us with: to burn away our fears and our shyness, and — as He did for the pre-Pentecost apostles — fill us with courage to “renew the face of the earth.”
So when next you go to your place of worship, let the world know that there is a God that you hold dear and have chosen to serve — show Him off! As we celebrate Pentecost, let us pray that the Holy Spirit will help us to bring decency and civility into our relationships and interactions with one another on social media.
Father Jacob Dankasa is a parochial vicar at St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church in McKinney and a regular contributor to The Texas Catholic.