Mediator, Not Media

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‘There is  one God; there is also one  mediator between God and  mankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who  gave himself a ransom for all’ (1 Tim 2:5). This  is one of the  Bible verses quoted  quite often.  What is the  duty of a mediator? In simple terms, a mediator is one who brings estranged parties to an amicable agreement or a  person  who helps in the communication between two parties.  In  the Christian context, God and man are those two parties.  Because of our weaknesses, we  need  a mediator on our behalf  to plead  our side  before God. Jesus has  executed his role of mediator  well,  to the extent of   giving  himself to be  crucified as ransom for us.  This  supreme sacrifice  made him the sole mediator for all eternity. Scripture assures us that we can  confidently  approach Jesus, who will mediate with God the Father  on our behalf. ‘Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that  we may  receive  mercy and find grace to  help in time of need’ ( Heb 4:16).

In spite of this express invitation  to  approach our   mediator Jesus Christ at any time and at all times, in practice we do not  see this  happening every time.  Today we are trying to  investigate  one of the  major reasons that prevents us from  accessing the most amiable mediator the world has ever seen.

To start with, what is  the biggest stumbling block  in  our spiritual journey? Temptations, dissipation, worries of this life, drunkenness, loss of faith, negative caricaturing of  the Church, lack of  knowledge in basic catechism, models not worthy of emulation and the list goes on! It is true; for a person going on the  wrong track  there could be  any number of   reasons to blame.  It is equally applicable to a  person  who ‘also ran’  but finished last.  We belong to  neither  of these two categories.  We are running on the  right track and  we are sure  we will  touch the finishing line  well in time.

Yet, we often  experience   our  energy levels  dropping, and a feeling that we are  not built for this race  creeping in. We have   our own share of  reasons  that  prevent us from  performing as we wish, and as  our Lord expects, in our spiritual  journey.  If we analyse the true reason behind it, we will  find that  there are  certain things, people, situations or attitudes that  make us    experience this  unwelcome phase in  our journey to perfection. It can be  in the  form of temptations or influences of this world. It can be the result of   being placed  in a particular  environment where our eyes and ears are  kept open to  things  profane most of the time. It  can be the result of   getting a bad person as our role model. It can be  through a  process of  assimilation to the  philosophy of religious  relativism where Jesus and  the way proclaimed by him are   treated as one among many options.

All these are correct. But  we need to go further deep. There is something  that leads us to  wrong people or wrong things or wrong situations or wrong attitudes.  In fact it  is one of the  major reasons behind a lethargic  spiritual life of many a Christian.   With this in mind, we should  try to find  out where we stand and what the way forward is. In any case, we cannot lose sight of our  ultimate   aim.  It is  nothing but reaching heaven. We should reassure  ourselves,  as often as possible,  that what we  experience today in  this dull  season of spirituality, in  this feeling of prayers getting monotonous, in  this  aversion to  sacraments and in  this  general lack of faith, are all  but momentary   distractions. From the very  beginning of  the race we have fixed our  eyes on the finishing  line  only. As for the  hurdles placed by our enemy,  we will cross them one  by one. 

When your country is going through  an election process, what is the  single  biggest factor that   influences your  opinion? When the  Church is passing through a  difficult   phase  receiving brickbats everywhere, as a Christian, how do you structure your  response to such situations? How does the philosophies of a  world given itself to hedonism,   permeate the serene  environs of our  families? How do many Christians start thinking that  Christianity is just another religion and fundamentally all religions are the same? How do governments feed you  with  only those narratives  that are convenient to the   ruling class? How does the  space for  virtue in public  life is  fast encroached by  vices  of all sorts?

You need not  search for  the  answers of each and every question. One answer will serve all these questions. It is the media that feeds us with everything   they want us to know; not anything we want to  know. Everything that they think will benefit them; not anything that  benefits us! It is not  a secret that  the global media houses are owned or controlled by  big corporates who have expressed their dislike for  Christian values  on all   possible occasions.  When I say the  media is patently anti-christian in its content, layout and presentation, I mean  not only  those  big media outlets. Wherever you live, the  local  media is also   following in their big brothers’ footsteps. Satan should be a  polyglot, I assume. For him language is not a barrier. This is the reason why we  see the same  pattern emerging in the  priorities  of media  platforms across the globe, irrespective of the language they use. Add to it the ever increasing  space, the  social media occupies in the public discourse and the filth it generates that contaminates our minds. We will get the frightening picture of   a river  sweeping away what little is  left on this planet  that can be called truly Christian. 

I used this  imagery not without reason.  We are familiar with  the fight between the Woman and the Dragon described in the Book of Revelation. ‘Then from his mouth the serpent poured  water like  a river after the Woman, to sweep her away with the flood’ (Rev. 12:15). Our Lady had clarified to Fr Stefano Gobbi that the  river mentioned  here is the volley of  propaganda  unleashed by the  devil through his minions to attack Christ and his Church on earth. Propaganda comes through the media.  Satan thinks he is  on a winning streak, because  the media is controlled by  his agents. For us laymen too,  it would seem that the  devil is  winning at last. No, my dear friends, the  final is yet to be played. What we see these days are just the preliminary  rounds and  as the  battle hots up, watch for the  final clash, the outcome of   which is already decided. The winner takes all, and we will win through Christ, in Christ and with Christ.

Well, that is  about a  glorious future awaiting us.  What  about the present, that  is marred by  convulsions, calamities and  catastrophes, where the ‘sound of  sheer silence’ (1 Kings 19:12) is drowned in the  cacophony of what the media says? We have to be very very careful these days. Our Lord has warned us of a  time when ‘false  messiahs and  false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible,  even the elect’ (Mt 24:24).

We believe that we are living in those  prophesied days. The biggest weapon Satan uses to lead astray  even the elect is his grip on  the media, both print and electronic, both traditional and modern. The liar disseminates falsities disguised as  truths through these media outlets. He presents everything upside down. He derogates virtues and exalts  vices. He  recommends   a long list of  persons or philosophies that would save us, but never ever mention the name of the  true and only saviour, Jesus Christ. He  tells us that  the purpose of life is to enjoy and in that  process  he obscures the  eternal truth that   our life on this earth  is  but   the preparation for  another life, blissful and  everlasting. Leading astray  in another term for  refusing to accept the  truth.

The reasons for not accepting the truth are three. First is that we do not know the truth. Second is that  we ignore the truth. We take pride in presenting ourselves as the people to whom  the truth was revealed. And we  think we never ignore the truth. We have the  classic example of  a Roman Governor asking Jesus; “What is truth?”  even while standing before the person who  himself was truth. Pilate knowingly bypassed the  truth as it was uncomfortable to him.

Third reason  for not accepting the truth is that  somebody obscures the plain  truth  from before our eyes.  Easiest way to  obscure  something  from our sight  is to place something else between that object and our eyes.  Present day media does exactly  this. They place something ‘that is  good for food and is a delight to the  eyes, and something  to be  desired to  make one wise’ between  our eyes and Jesus, the ultimate truth. The Devil  has tried this game   long before and tasted success in his first attempt itself.  No wonder, even today his favorite weapon remains the same. If he could deceive  Eve, and  through her Adam, without the  help of newspapers, television, internet, email,  cellphones, whatsapp, facebook or twitter, realise how dangerous  a time we are living in, when  the incessant flow of  knowledge from these platforms attack our little brains. Indeed, it is easier for the elect to  be deceived than ever.

Is there any solution to get  out of this dilemma? There are two options. One is to  get out  of all unwanted influences  coming  through the media and dedicate the extra time so obtained for something good. Second option is to  continue enjoying all those filth dropped at your doorsteps by  the media and wait for  some miracle to happen  that will deliver you from their influence. I hope you got the message right.  For a Christian, the second  option is no option at all. If you  are dreaming about a  fruitful  spiritual life, the first thing to do is to come out of  your addiction to the media and what it serves. Look back and ask yourself. Have you come across any  piece of writing in the mainstream media  during the past one month that  helped you in  your spiritual journey? Or how many posts have  you seen in social media during this  period that  really benefited you? If not, why should you  waste your  valuable time  in swallowing  all those  worthless things?

I am not saying that  we should  shun the media altogether. What is needed here is discernment. We are not supposed to read all  the news. We are not supposed to watch all the movies. God does not expect us to read all facebook posts and  offer our comments.  There is a clear distinction between what a true believer  can do and what he cannot do. If something  helps us to grow  spiritually, then  accept it. If it is not, shun it.  You cannot be a servant of God and a friend of this  world at  the same time. Listen what  James the Apostle  has to tell us; ‘Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of  the world  becomes an enemy of  God’ (Jas 4:4).  Addiction to  the media is  a perfect sign  of  friendship with the world and with it we are  risking  the  all-important  friendship with God.

Media helps you to garner  worldly knowledge. It is the  biggest  catalyst and a powerful vehicle for the  knowledge explosion that we  witness these days.  Before  wondering about the e exponential  progress  in  the sphere of  knowledge and communication that the  past few decades have witnessed, it is wise to  remember something written  some two hundred years before Jesus. ‘Many shall be running back and forth, and evil shall increase’ (Dan 12:4). The Hebrew equivalent of  ‘evil’ used in Dan 12:4  is  ‘knowledge’. In fact many   translations prefer ‘knowledge’ to  ‘evil’. Either way, ours is a time when  communication facilities are  advanced, making the  movement of   data   fast and safe and  worldly knowledge is increased  essentially   leading  to an increase in  evil.

At this time, there are two options, the first one  is to let oneself be swayed by  the worldly knowledge  served by the Media and  the second  is to pray for  the knowledge of the Holy Spirit that comes through our only Mediator, Jesus Christ.  If you belong to the ‘elect’, then select the  Mediator instead of the Media. The knowledge about Jesus Christ is more valuable than any other knowledge, as affirmed  by Paul. Let us also  say: ‘ For I decided to  know nothing  among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified’ (1 Cor 2:2).

May the  Holy Spirit  ignite  our hearts to seek the  real  knowledge   and   shun the worldly knowledge  that is  another word for evil. May we be blessed with the  insight to  discern what the media says, and a  firm resolve  to restrict its use, so that our Lent be  more fruitful.

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