Imagine my surprise when I received an email this morning that read, in its entirety: “Jesus added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know Jesus in order for you to be friends on Facebook.”
I’m not joking. Here’s the link to his page, if you persist in your doubt. (You need to be on Facebook to see it.)
On the one hand, I was delighted. Who wouldn’t be? And I said “yes” immediately to God’s request, unlike a certain young virgin from Nazareth who had to ask, “How can this be?” I know better than to say no to God’s requests, or even to doubt his inscrutable will. (When Zechariah questioned God’s will in the Gospel of Luke, he was struck dumb, which is something I like to avoid.) Here I am, Lord, and I come to be your Facebook friend!
But beyond just saying “yes” to Jesus, I figured, perhaps selfishly, that there were many benefits that would accrue by being "friended" by the Son of God. For one thing, after all that puzzling over confusing Scripture passages (like about half of the Gospel of John), trying to figure out the point of suffering and, in general, struggling to discern his more-often-than-not mysterious will, I could finally get what I hope would be clearer answers to my questions. Like, did God really need to make so many mosquitoes? Where do pigeons lay their eggs? Why does the other line always move faster? And what’s with this Rod Blagojevich guy?
On the other hand, I was a little annoyed. Did the Facebook people really need “confirmation” that I “know Jesus” after 20 years as a Jesuit. Apparently, praying daily, serving the poor, and living poverty, chastity and obedience are not enough “confirmation.” Well, as St. James and John said when Jesus told them they wouldn’t be standing at his right hand in heaven, “Whatever.”
There was lots to learn about Jesus of Nazareth from his Facebook profile. (Actually, he lists himself as Jesus Nazareth, dropping the "of" just like Ignatius Loyola did.) Some things I already knew, but it was nice to see “confirmation” anyway. For one thing, he was in fact born in Bethlehem. (There’s a picture on his Homepage.) He does in fact have a long beard and piercing eyes. He put a nice picture of himself on his Profile page--which I posted above--as well as a picture of his birthplace, which looks a stable, albeit a very, very well lit one.
Oh, and he was in fact born on December 25, though he doesn’t give the year. I guess, “Before you were, I am” wouldn’t fit in that space. Or maybe he’s a little sensitive about his age. I know how he feels.
But here are some things you might not know. I didn’t. Apparently he went to Notre Dame, since he’s a member of a kind of alumni club. (Or maybe he just clicked “Confirm” on that request to get some annoying ND friend off his back.) He’s a member of fan club for some guy named Yang Wei, who is a Chinese gymnast. (Jesus likes people from many lands, to the ends of the earth.) And he’s also a member of the FB group “Eat, Sleep, Sail,” which is a good summary of what he used to do with the apostles, although “Eat, Sleep, Heal, Preach, Feed Five Thousand, Preach Some More, Exorcise, Sail” might be more accurate. And—a nice surprise—he’s planning on going to a Jesuit ordination Mass in 2009, not in the form some vague “Holy Spirit” but, apparently, in person. That should be fun. Hope he gets to preach! (Although he’s not ordained so that could pose something of a problem.)
Anyway, I’m delighted to have had Jesus “friend” me. I look forward to his updates. ("Jesus is casting out demons." "Jesus is stilling the storm." "Jesus is watching the Eagles game.") And I’ll be checking in on him a lot, since I’ve got lots of questions to ask him and his Father in heaven, who as of yet doesn’t seem to have his own page. Surprisingly, though, Jesus’s Facebook page takes forever to load. Frankly, it’s a pain. One day in his Temple may be like a thousand years, but on the web one minute is way too long to wait for anything.
James Martin, SJ