Jesus 'Communication Platform'
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CNS)—As parents already know, if you want to talk to a teenager, send a text message.
Before he began his homily during the National Catholic Youth Conference's closing Mass Nov. 21, Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., pulled out his cell phone.
"Let's see. You put the message in. Then the number. Then you hit 'Send,'" he said.
Up on the gigantic high-definition screen appeared his message to the 21,000 Catholic teenagers assembled in Kansas City's Sprint Center: "U R GR8."
"We are a bilingual group. So there is another message I want to send," he said, pressing more keys on his phone. "SALU2 a TO2" ("Saludos a todos, salute to all") appeared on the screen.
Then he said he would send the original Christian text message: "IHS."
"You should recognize this one," Bishop Soto said. "It is the oldest text message anywhere. It is the text for the holy name of Jesus."
New forms of electronic communication are everywhere and being reinvented again rapidly, but God doesn't care, Bishop Soto said.
"God does not buy a new iPhone or get a new app (mobile application). His communication platform is the human person," he said.
The explosion of electronic communication, he continued, is merely a reflection of the yearning in the human heart to have what Jesus offers—a connection to love.
"The Lord Jesus Christ is tapping on the homepage of your heart," he said. "He wants to text the truth of God's mercy on your soul. Jesus is the word, the ultimate Facebook of God, and invites you to be his friend."
"Jesus does not Twitter," the bishop said. "Rather he humbled himself so that he could meet you, connect with you and serve you in charity and in truth. He is the IP (Internet Protocol) address of the way, the truth and the life."
Speaking in an arena that has hosted rock music concerts and sporting events, Bishop Soto challenged the teens, who sat in rapt, silent attention, not to allow the connectivity of new technology to take them away from God.
His homily at the Sprint Center Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, was linked by closed-circuit television across downtown to a second Mass at the H. Roe Bartle Convention Center, celebrated by Archbishop Roger L. Schwietz of Anchorage, Alaska, to an overflow audience also numbering in the thousands.
Bishop Soto said the connection that people truly long for is a connection to Christ.
"Any truth worth knowing is fundamentally part of a relationship with Jesus," he said. "Truth is most persuasive and most attractively revealed to us through the new covenant of charity found in knowing and connecting with the Lord Jesus."
But too often, new technology can sever the connection between truth and God as new media become new messages, the bishop said.
"Both truth and relationship are corrupted when the culture disconnects them to serve a distorted sense of freedom," Bishop Soto said.
"'I've got to be me.' 'Let me do my own thing.' 'It's all about me,' have become the national anthems of the times," he said.
The freedom the culture claims is true couldn't be more false, Bishop Soto said.
"Life has become a multiple-choice question for which there are no wrong answers and the only criteria for choosing are one's own impressions, preferences, desires and fears," he said.
"Who would say they are against pro-choice because having choices and being able to choose seems to be the essence of freedom," Bishop Soto said.
Many want to be free from having to make any choices, but to be connected to God and his truth, he said, everyone must make a choice.
"Jesus put his personal liberty at the service of charity and truth," the bishop said. "He humbled himself to dialogue with us, a dialogue rich in truth, a conversation charged with charity."
At the center of that dialogue is the cross, Bishop Soto said.
"The cross is both the medium and the message that Christ sends us," he said.
"When we respond to that call, when we hear his voice, we begin a dialogue that will connect you to the truth that will set you free. You will enter into a covenant of love that frees you to love others," the bishop said.
"In the light of Christ's church, you will discover who you really are. In the bonds of his merciful love, you will be unchained from all your fears," Bishop Soto said.
That is genuine freedom, rooted in God's love, and in it the possibilities of human advancement are limitless, he said.
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