Archbishop Smith: On Demand

15 April 2019

Appears in: Archdiocesan News

Digital streaming is terrific. How it happens is beyond me, but I must confess that I like it and use it often. Through the mystery of the Internet, I can get programming streamed into the TV and music or podcasts into the smartphone. Of course, I’m not the only one who likes or uses it. The technology is very popular. The secret to its success, it seems to me, is that everything is available “on demand”. I can get what I want when I want it. The whole digital streaming technology is geared to respond to my demands, instantly.

What does it mean for a Christian to live “on demand?” It is an important question, in that it highlights a temptation to be avoided, namely, to allow my secular experience of an “on demand” life to creep into my relationship with Christ. Surrender to this temptation will manifest itself in the expectation that the Lord must respond to my desires on my timeline. Why doesn’t God answer my prayer? Is He not listening? Does He not care?

In the liturgy of Palm Sunday, the example of Jesus teaches us that, while his followers certainly are called to live “on demand,” the dynamic is reversed. The point of reference is not my personal desires but God’s saving will. As a Christian, I am called always to live in ready response to the commands of God.

Jesus enters Jerusalem to face his destiny. He arrives in the Holy City not to placate the crowds but in obedience to the will of his Father. He is “on demand” to the Father. The crowds, however, surround him with their own self-centered “on demand” expectations. They expect him to fulfill their idea of a Messiah, and as long as he appears to be acting on their terms, they hail him with palm branches and singing. As soon, though, as it becomes clear that he is “on demand” not to them but to the Father, they turn against him, and soon are shouting “crucify him!”

As we enter Holy Week, let’s pray for the grace to live “on demand” in a manner that befits our identities as followers of Jesus Christ. This means seeking to have the will of God streamed into our hearts by the Holy Spirit and being ready to follow wherever the demands of the Lord lead us.