The Medium is the Message


The Readings for Monday in the Fifth Week of Easter
The Feast of Pope St Pius V

Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

This scene of the Lystrians offering sacrifices to Zeus and Hermes is one of my favorite events in all of the New Testament outside of the Gospels. It’s so funny, so embarrassing to the apostles that it must certainly be true: why would you make such a mortifying story?

Anyone who has been involved in teaching for a while can certainly understand this story. A message so life-changing might lead to a crush on the teacher. This teaching came with a miracle, a sign of spiritual power, but it’s clear that none of the teaching sank in, or if it did, the miracle nearly destroyed everything.

This event reminds us that the medium is the message: Since the gospel is proclaimed in action and word, in fact, we are the media. Paul and Barnabas did nothing other than fall prey to what might be called a cultural bias among the Greeks. The Jews have a different understanding of Miracles, they know that God does them through people. To the Greeks, a Miracle is a sign of the gods acting here. They get all swept up in the presence of power and they begin to do things to flatter the egos of the actors whom they assume are gods. They are like children who bring presents to a teacher to woo her into giving them better grades. This is how we tend to act towards powerful people: we try to get their attention and get them to help us or to give us stuff. Ethical people in power do what the apostles did, and try to redirect the worship to the right person.

Unethical teachers, however, are swayed by the gifts not into giving more presents to their students, but rather into taking advantage of their students. Much of our recent history is of corrupt teachers, corrupt media ruining the message. This is what the sex abuse Scandal is all about: ego, pride, and power where there should be kenosis, humility, and charity.

We are used to thinking of the Gospel as words on a page, or perhaps a book carried in procession at Mass. But the Gospel is good news. It is in fact you that is the Gospel. Your words, your actions, your driving, your comments on Facebook, your deep data, your voting habits, the way you love your spouse, the way you care for your children, the way you act in your community; all of these things define the Gospel for those around you. Long before anyone ever even picked up a Bible to look, these things all either proclaim Jesus to those around you, or they failed to do so.

Jesus says, the word you hear is not mine, but the word of him who sent me. Would that that were true of all of us every day.

Author: Huw Richardson

I'm no Benedictine, but I'm too old for the Franciscans. I'm in the process of moving servers... so trying to keep both of my "linked sites" in sync until there's only one. There can be only one. Huw Richardson was born in Atlanta under a different name about 55 years ago. I never knew my father nor any of his kin. I’ve lived all over: I was never in the same house for 3 Christmases until I was over 40. I’ve not yet made it to 4. Rootlessness seems to be a way of life and every time I think I’m about to root, it ends up not happening. Yet I’ve made some amazing friends online. I’ve met some awesome people all over the world. I’ve met religious leaders and heads of state and famous movie stars. I’ve also managed to be debt-free. I’ve stood on the Hill of Tara and touched the Lia Fail. It did not cry out. I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone as well, if you can’t guess. I have illicitly touched ancient, holy statues to see if anything would happen and I have never used flash photography when I should not have. I’ve been a bookseller, a call center drone, a trainer, a convert, a preacher, a monk, a planter, a secretary, a writer, and an activist. My patron is Blessed Stanley Rother. When I’m in trouble, he’s got my back. He prays for me, along with St Rose of Lima, St. Catherine of Siena, St John Henry Newman, Bl Fulton J Sheen, and Bl. William Richardson. I’m a Dominican Tertiary and a member of Courage International. This is home: I’ve found my roots by using my wings. What’s next? I don’t know. Part of me wants to just pick out a camper and gig my way around the world. Part of me wants to own a pub in Ireland and feed my soul with good music until forever. Part of me has always taught. Some part of me dances whenever the moon is full. Another part of me kneels in awe in the darkness as all the stars spin but the cross stands still.