There is no doubt about it we live in an incredible age of communication. I grew up in a household where we had no telephone, such a reality would now be unthinkable. Now everybody in the house has a phone and carries it around with them, even the children. I grew up reading books, now you can carry a whole library of books around with you in your kindle. I grew up playing records, you can now get ipods in which you can carry around a whole shopload of tunes, 20,000 40000 and you can go to spotify where you can get a world of different music. We used to think it was wonderful that you could telephone people in another part of the world, but now you can skype them and you can see them and they can see you too. We used to write letters to people and now you can go on facebook and speak to a whole world of people at the same time, instantly. There was those hand held videos which we thought were so cool and now you can share videos with millions of people online. I am from an age where we loved to play board games, now there is interactive games on the screen where you can compete with people in the room and others in the other end of the world. We used to have clunking phones with dials that whirled and now we have touch screens. We grew up with a few channels on TV and now we have so many different ones and now you don’t even to watch it at times they set down but you can watch it at times you choose. We used to read newspapers, magazines and now people have whole libraries of newspapers and magazines online at their finger tips through ipads.
There’s no doubt there is an explosion in the world of communication, we are living in a communications revolution, just like the industrial revolution of 19th Century. News and communication is instant. If we want to say something there are so many ways that we can get it out there. We learn now from an early age how to use the phone, how to switch the tv on, how to change the channels, how to use a laptop, what Bluetooth is, how to facebook messages. We have at our finger tips ways of communicating that people could only dream about in the past.
Yet we have not found a new way to communicate with God. We have found a phone that works, a channel to switch to, a laptop that could beam a message to him, skype that would allow him to see us face to face. The only way that we can communicate with him is through prayer. Because it is not instant, because it is not diverting or entertaining, people easily switch off.
Today at Mass we hear Christ praying or speaking or communicating to his Eternal Father. He uses words. He prays for things he wants and needs – for his apostles and disciples, for their unity with him and their unity with one another. He prays that they don’t fail. In this prayer he has trust and has confidence that his Father is listening to him, even although the prayer does not record his response. He believes and trusts and knows that he is listened to. He is not shy in asking for things because this is his role as our intercessor, our priest, the one who speaks on our behalf. He has a desire in his heart, he has belief and he has trust, he has confidence he is listened to. He doesn’t need a modern appliance to distract him or to be instantaneous. He doesn’t get angry when the return message isn’t there and then.
Prayer teaches us certain things. It teaches us that we have an open line to God. That we can speak to God and know that he is listening. It teaches us to trust, to believe in him and know that he wishes our good. Like any line of communication it is important to keep communicating. If people stop keeping in contact then the relationship soon grows cold.
In talking about prayer I don’t want to seem to write off things that are new. But there are somethings in life that don’t need fancy new inventions. There are simple bare bone realities that don’t change.
Prayer needs time given to it. Prayer needs effort, faithfulness to stay with it. Prayer needs commitment to the relationship, you will understand that if you have ever had a friendship – stop communicating and things grow cold. Prayer is about a simple line of communication between you and God, that sometimes needs words and sometimes doesn’t even need that. It entails feelings what is your heart and mind. It needs honesty on your part, because you can’t lie to this other person on the other end of the line, you can’t pull the wool over his eyes – he knows what you are going to say even before you say it. Prayer simply helps us to know him.
We often find ourselves behind the curve when it comes to technology in the church. I hope in the parish you don’t feel like that, but I promise the best I can to keep up with it. It is fascinating, challenging and shouldn’t scare us. There are people that are always scared of change. People scoffed at the telephone and tv when they were first invented. We are surrounded by a wonderful leap forward – Caxton who invented the printing press and allowed writing to be printed. The inventor of braille who allowed blind people to read and write. Morse code that allowed signals to communicate message long distance. Who knows where it will end up, that’s what makes it so exciting. That God has imbued us with his power to create, proof of that is all around.