The thought crossed my mind the other day: What if the apostles tweeted? You can just imagine what the message looked like when Andrew was on his way to bring Peter to meet the Lord. Filled with the joy of discovering no one less than the Messiah the God of Israel had been promising to send to the people chosen to be God’s own, Andrew surely would not have thrown up from his iPhone® a message any less majestic than:
@SimonCalledCephas – Ur not gonna believe who I found #messiah
To which Simon Peter probably would have replied in a Spirit-filled moment of assent to God’s plan, intended for him from before time began:
@AndrewHisBrother – Srsly could not care less…btw it’s been a blast mending these nets by myself #srynotsry
Or what about the moment when Matthew’s Gospel records the incredible revelation of who Jesus is, coming from the very lips of Simon Peter. In that moment Peter announces, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus promptly then bestows to Peter the power to bind and loose. I wonder if Peter could have resisted the temptation to tweet something like:
@Beloved Disciple – Did you hear that? I’m the cornerstone #likearock
Later the Beloved Disciple, St. John, might well have had his own words for Peter:
@SimonCalledCephas – I’m at the cross—where ru? #didthecockcrow
It’s certainly a temptation sometimes to wish the Gospels gave us more information. Often I ask myself—especially after one of Jesus’ miracles—I wonder what the disciples were feeling? It seems like we only get occasional hints from the Evangelists about fear or astonishment, often in moments we would expect. They were afraid when Jesus calms the storm and at the Transfiguration. The apostles were astonished at his teaching, for no one had ever taught with the authority he possessed. But what about those moments of exasperation? What about the little pokes and pricks the all-too-porcupine-like group of friends must have given themselves? Where’s that in the Gospel? Why don’t we know more?
The fact of the matter is that Scripture contains everything God meant for the evangelist to include necessary for our salvation. Liberties of style could have been taken by a book’s human author, but it would be impossible to think that the Holy Spirit was incapable of ensuring that everything we needed to know would be handed down to us.
Moreover, we might think God the Father could have set things up so that we could have more “access” to Jesus. If Jesus, or even the Apostles, had Twitter accounts, it seems like more people would be able to follow them than the technology of first-century Palestine allows. Thomas Aquinas thought about this question in his own way, in the terms of his time, when he asks, “Why didn’t Jesus just write a book?” Amazingly enough, Aquinas’ answer continues to inspire, even with us asking our Twitter version. Among the reasons he gives arguing it would have been unsuitable for Jesus to have written a book, the most poignant he offers says that because of Christ’s dignity, his teaching should be implanted on hearts, rather than on pages.
Even today, that’s still the point, isn’t it? Blogging friars, pastors on Pinterest, tweeting apostles—none of these would exist to communicate just facts or information about Jesus. Hearts are only converted by encountering Christ. Twitter, Facebook and all the rest are useful tools to be conscripted into Gospel service, but in the end there is only Friendship with Christ. He’s the only one we can follow.
Image: Duccio di Buoninsegna, Detail of Christ’s Farewell to his Apostles.