This Sunday we were allowed to have outdoor gatherings here in the NT provided we respected social distancing and a few other health precautions. In view of this, we were able to have outdoor masses again with the community for the first time in many weeks.
We have made use of social media here in our diocese to connect with each other, celebrate the Eucharist and other activities online. I believe that this experience has been good, and it has certainly opened up so many possibilities. So much is possible now that certainly wasn’t available when I was a boy. I still remember at age 11 laughing at my great grandmother watching TV for the first time in her life, wondering if those on screen could see us! Not such a strange question now days.
The benefits of communication improvements are fantastic. My grandparents migrated to Australia from Malta before I was born. I met them for the first time when we arrived in Adelaide when I was 13 years old. It used to be so expensive, so hard to speak by phone to them before then! Certainly, I have become convinced of how many possibilities open up before us in proclaiming the good news of Jesus more effectively using technology.
However, it was so good to connect as we did last Saturday night and Sunday! Celebrating Eucharist in person with each other. It is certainly the ideal as far as I am concerned. Being able to feel each other’s presence, look at each other’s eyes, to share such a profound mystery in such a good human way!
Jesus gave us the Eucharist so that we can come together and be strengthened together. Being together is just so significant as we share the deep mysteries of our faith in person.
Certainly, we need to prepare for the Eucharist in the best possible way. It is true that some celebrations are more helpful than others. However, there is an intrinsic goodness and value in the celebration of Eucharist irrespective of the abilities of the celebrant, the proclamation skills of the readers, the quality of the music, etc. I am not saying that these things are not important, however, Jesus is able to break through these limitations and reaches out to us when we gather in His name. The celebration of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus with the promise of more to come is something that we need to connect with regularly.
For those who will not be able to be physically present at mass, I am sure that God has ways of connecting through what is available in very effective ways. So, we will continue to make more use of social media and improve on what we are able to do.
Social media can be a ‘mixed blessing’. I know how concerned many parents are about the overuse that some young people make of social media. Some adults also live in a pseudo reality because of an addition to social media. However, abuse of something does not make that thing ‘intrinsically’ bad.
Meantime, I look forward to gathering each week with my brothers and sisters as we meet Jesus in the breaking open of ‘The Word of God’ and the Eucharist. And being sent out to share the fruit of what we have experienced, with all.
God Bless you today.
Bishop of Darwin