Making Disciples in the Digital Frontier

disciples, digital

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

The Great Commission cited above concludes the Gospel according to Matthew with the promise that Jesus will be with us “always, to the end of the age.” In essence, this promise surpasses the fidelity of our earthly, finite marriage vows with the infinite value of God’s covenantal love. The “divine consent” to be with us in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, goes beyond aspiration into immutable truth. We are assured that wherever we go in the world, and by whatever means, we will have God at our side, and, indeed, within us. This reality extends to all gathering places including the physical locations of our employment.

Going Forth by Digital Media

As more and more of us transition from traditional workplaces to working from home, we are presented with new challenges as well as new opportunities in spreading the Gospel message. The camaraderie and synergy of working together in the same office, while challenging, can be obtained through various platforms available online.

Long before the internet, teleconferencing, and telemarketing were utilized when face-to-face meetings were impractical or impossible. Now, anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer can communicate with others in real-time. Television shows that used to feature people sitting around a table in the studio now show the same group “gathering” from their respective locations via various online platforms.

When we go forth as disciples of Christ, we are never alone. We have the divine assistance and companionship that Jesus promised before His ascension into Heaven. It has been said that the time we feel the most alone is precisely the time that Jesus is most “present” to us. To feel alone, even as our faith would indicate otherwise, is both understandable and forgivable.

The Cry of the Disciples

Pope Francis, in his homily for his Urbi et Orbi blessing, cited the passage below from the Gospel of Mark:

A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and [the disciples] woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4: 37-41)

The Holy Father pointed out that Jesus, asleep in the stern, was actually in the part of the boat that was in the most danger. If anyone had the right to panic, it would have been he. The cry of the disciples, along with questioning the compassion of Jesus, illustrates the real effects of panic and fear. Before calming the storm, there was an honest dialogue where hard questions were asked of all. Jesus went on to prove his love and concern, while the disciples were allowed to grow in faith.

Jesus is in Control

As we work through the uncertainty and anxiety that the “storm” of the current pandemic causes, we can be assured that Jesus is truly with us and in complete control. There is room for us disciples to question God’s providence, and the mysterious aspects of how faith works. God’s ways are not our ways, and His timing is not ours.

Let us pray for the grace and strength to fulfill the mandate of discipleship through traditional means as well as the new digital frontier.

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1 thought on “Making Disciples in the Digital Frontier”

  1. Sometimes thinking-outside-the-box does not need to include the most modern technology. I recently heard of local plans for drive-in mass similar to drive-in movie theaters. Isn’t that a great ideas?! Our 75 year old parish certainly has a large enough parking lot…and the best thing is, nobody can ruin the show by turning on their headlights.

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