Over the past few weeks a UK based discipleship project called Made For Glory has been producing daily reflections on the gospel at Mass. These short films have sought to be a guide through the season of Advent, bringing the message of this holy season to others through social media. Each day a new film has been uploaded to YouTube, and then put out through Facebook and Twitter for the Catholic social media world to share – and with great effect. The group describes themselves as, ‘Young people helping their peers grow in their faith, going deeper in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ’.
With the added advantage of a five hour time difference to watch the films the night before, my preaching at the Mass each day has been greatly helped by this project and resources. I’m used to preaching almost daily here, but often the reflections on the gospel which come to me before 7am, or which are influenced by the text of the Office that day, are not as concise or clear as they need to be for a short ferverino before people head to work. These short clips have the advantage that they communicate the message of the day’s readings, making the richness of the gospel palatable for a short homily whilst at the same time not reducing the challenges the readings present.
I am far from an advocate for reductionist preaching, or for seeking to make every aspect of the Christian faith relevant through contemporary analogy; rather I want to share the joy and challenge of living the life to which we are called by our baptism to those around me, and to offer them a chance of entering into the mystery of the life of the Church. These clips help with that, and particularly in their intended context: not just the daily Mass (where we find people already committed to Christ), but in our social networks, filled as they are with those whose faith is weak, or shaken, or unawakened by knowing the joy of life in Jesus Christ and his Church.
The intention of Made For Glory is also important. This is a ‘discipleship project’. It is classic and effective peer-to-peer evangelization. It is young people seeking to bring young people into a deeper ‘personal relationship with Jesus Christ’. This description is strongly evangelical and biblical language, for sure, but it is also the language of the Church, in her mission to proclaim Christ unswervingly in and to the culture of today. Pope Benedict XVI alluded to this urgent need in Hyde Park, London, in 2010:
Truth is passed on not merely by formal teaching, important as that is, but also by the witness of lives lived in integrity, fidelity and holiness; those who live in and by the truth instinctively recognise what is false and, precisely as false, inimical to the beauty and goodness which accompany the splendour of truth, veritatis splendor.
So I recommend these to films to you. Watch them, share them, and get them out beyond the bounds of the usual Catholic social media crowd and into a world that – especially at this time of year – may be open and receptive to the great gift of life in Christ. He desires nothing more than to make his home with us, let us prepare to receive him and help others to do the same.