Today’s post is a homily that Fr. Michael Schleupner recently shared. Fr. Mike was the presenter for our Friends Day of Prayer last week and our guests thoroughly enjoyed his presentation and day of reflection too. The focus of this post is a tough, but important lesson from the Gospel with a modern day analogy. Let’s take a few moments to learn from scripture and Fr. Mike’s wisdom.
Gospel Reading: Mark 10:17-30 (shorter form Mark 10:17-27)
A man with many possessions asks Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life.
So, you are a good person. You don’t steal or cheat or use lots of four-letter words. You don’t hurt anyone, and you work pretty hard. And yet, you are not quite sure. Something feels incomplete, and so you ask Jesus, “Am I doing okay?”
This is what the man in today’s gospel is feeling and doing. And then Jesus answers you, “Well, as a matter of fact, there is one more thing.” You anxiously ask, “Uh, what’s that?” And Jesus responds to you or me with a 2021 answer – different from what he says to the man in the gospel, but just as unsettling.
He says, “Power off your cell phone and shut down your tablet and your laptop. And just be there for your family or friends or for the people you work with and definitely for anyone who is in need.”
You and I are really put off, much like the man in the gospel. “Power off my Smartphone and shut down my tablet and my laptop? “Are you kidding? I might miss out on something.”
And that is the issue, maybe the problem. Some professionals are studying this fear of missing out on something as an addiction. They refer to it by the acronym – F-O-M-O – FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. It is the fear of missing out on something or someone more important, more interesting, or more exciting than the thing we are now doing or the person we are now with. It is the anxiety that others are having a better time or doing something better.
This other something or someone may be better or worse. We don’t know, so we just have to check it out. We interrupt one call to take another. We’re constantly checking Facebook, LinkedIn, emails, texts, tweets, Instagram, and everything else to make sure we are not out of the loop, and we do this regardless of whom we are with or what else we are doing.
We are connected and available 24/7. This is what we are holding on to, much as the man in the gospel was holding on to his wealth.
Now, Jesus is not telling us to throw away our cell phones and tablets and laptops. In fact, the man in today’s gospel is the only person that Jesus ever tells to sell all that he has and give the money to the poor. He never tells Peter to sell his boat, and he never tells Martha and Mary to sell their Sears kitchen appliances!
Jesus apparently says this here to shock this man – to shake him into looking more deeply at his life. And I think it is the same thing with us and all of our electronic and social communications. Communicating or being connected is a wonderful thing, Jesus would say. But the kingdom of God is not just digital and real caring is not just a virtual experience.
Disconnect to Connect
I think Jesus would say: “Disconnect in order to connect.” Disconnect from your electronic devices for a while and do this to connect with those around you. We have to remember that the purpose of communication is not just communication of stuff but communion – communion with others and with God too.
The persons around us are the “poor” to whom Jesus tells the man in the gospel to give his money. Those around us may not be financially poor or any more emotionally or socially or spiritually in need than we are. But they are the persons we are with right now – your family at home, your classmates, your friend with whom you are having a beer, the guy or woman who live next door. Jesus is saying: let go of what you are afraid you are going to miss – FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out. Disconnect in order to connect. Make sure your communications are for communion with others.
If you do this, then you are really with the other person or with God or even with God by being with that person. And then you will experience more inner peace and no so much FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out.
~Fr. Michael Schleupner
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