Social Media and the Seven Deadly Sins - Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) - Social Justice Sunday

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Social Media and the Seven Deadly Sins - Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) - Social Justice Sunday

Prophets, like Amos whom we read today, played an important role in Israel. They called the people back to being faithful to God. In today’s first reading we hear Amos challenging the smug indifference of the rich. Prophets often spoke uncomfortable truths and spoke them with uncompromising boldness. They had to work hard to ensure that the people would listen. As the reading suggests today, the people had become completely materialistic and in the process were neglecting justice.

Similarly in the Gospel today Jesus warns of the dangers of a comfortable material life. The rich man who feasted lavishly each day was oblivious of suffering around him, of the poor man Lazarus at his gate. He was totally self-absorbed. And he would pay an eternal price for this. 

We all need to have messages that challenge our complacency. Indeed, being a Christian means that we are prepared to be disturbed by the word of truth and see where we need to re-order our lives.

On this Social Justice Sunday we are challenged to look how we use social media. In choosing the theme of the impact of social media on our lives the Australian bishops have given us all a timely reminder to critically examine our use of social media and to be more alert to its impact on our lives.

We are living through a revolution in social communications. There are so many positive aspects to this, of course, but we are also seeing more and more that there are real dangers to healthy human life, both as individuals and as societies.

We cannot ignore any longer the detrimental effects of our high levels of involvement with social media: information overload and fake news, social isolation and manipulation, denial of privacy and promotion of human vices. While social media is a valuable servant in our relationships, it can also be a source of poison, causing great harm.

One thing that is becoming more evident is that social media has supercharged some of our baser human instincts. Consider the interaction between the seven deadly sins and the effects of social media on our lives. The seven deadly sins are pride, gluttony, sloth, greed, envy, lust, and wrath. All of these are finding their way into our lives via social media. It is not hard to see evidence of each of these vices in the content that fills our lives from social media.

We all need to examine our conscience and consider what we find ourselves pursuing on our smartphones or laptops.

We are exposed to so much that would never had entered our lives in the pre-computer age. We are being spiritually and psychologically subverted.

Slavish engagement in social media is not good for the soul and the health of our spiritual life.

Steady exposure to these platforms induces risks to our emotional and mental health. This is especially the case for younger users who have not developed a robust self-confidence.

We are learning more and more of how the big companies have collated our personal information through our use of social media and are selling it to companies who use the information for their own profit or power. Voices are being raised to call the powerful media companies to account for how they are using data mined from those using their services.

The advances in digital facial recognition provide new possibilities for surveillance and control, as we are seeing in China.

The bishops’ statement offers us much food for thought. It can provide a timely examination of conscience on our use of social media. More importantly it can encourage us to change the ways we are using social media.

The bishops are encouraging us to be more disciplined in our use of social media. At the same time the Statement suggests ways that we can use social media in a truly Christian way. In particular, we can identify its potential for building up human community and encourage right relationships grounded in Christian virtue.

In the parish here everyone is being encouraged to sign up for the Catholic social media site, Formed. One positive response to the message of the Australian Bishops would be to sign up to this wonderful Catholic site so that your faith is being enriched by sound and inspiring Catholic content.

I recommend that you get a copy of this Social Justice statement and read it thoughtfully.

We will not be like the revellers castigated by the Prophet Amos, or be so engrossed in enjoying ourselves that we are blind to the needs of people at our gate, as the Lord warns.

St Paul, in the second reading today, gives each of us a simple guide to being a true Christian, and we can apply it to our use of social media. He recommended: “You must aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle.”

In our daily life, in the midst of the temptations of social media, let us firstly aim to be saintly and religious.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Sunday, 29 September 2019