There was a day when a teacher was instructing an outdoor class so large that most of his students couldn’t see or hear him. The teacher didn’t want anyone to be left behind in what he was sharing, so he climbed a mountain. From there, everyone could see him—even those farthest from him could meet his gaze—and mostly everyone could hear. It was from that mountain that the teacher did something that would go down in history: he borrowed a lunch from one of the kids and prayed over it before everyone. That one simple prayer, and that one simple meal, ended up feeding over five thousand people in real time.
You can read about it in the Gospel of John, chapter 6.
This miracle has held a special place in the hearts and imaginations of Christians since the day it occurred. Why? Perhaps one reason is that it shows us Christ’s determination and ingenuity in ensuring that, even in the limitedness of his human form, every soul around him would be able to encounter the love, truth, and nourishment they needed to come home to the Father. That mountain allowed people to see and hear him who couldn’t have seen or heard him under normal circumstances—it amplified Christ's human limitation of a simple body and a regular voice. That reality was reflected in the miracle of his amplification, if you will, of the simple five loaves and two fish to feed over 5000 hungry people.
Jesus hasn’t stopped. He hasn’t stopped expanding the reach of a simple human presence, a regular human voice, and the few resources his children have to bring to the table. For all the apostles he sends out to share him with the world, he provides their own kind of mountain. And for many of us today, livestreaming has become our new Mount.
Livestreaming is nothing new. But during these days when we are more stretched and isolated than usual, and feeling our littleness more pointedly, it is becoming amazingly clear how God is using this technology to take our limitedness and littleness as his very human disciples, and amplify and multiply our presence, our voice, and the gift of himself, to reach every soul around us. And he is doing it uniquely for the different ministries of each of his disciples.
Social Media Square inviting “The Chosen” viewers to a livestream
Take the series The Chosen, for example. In the past, this show would have touched people’s lives profoundly through the airing of its episodes and the sales of its DVDs. But it seems the Lord was not satisfied with settling for limiting the chances of encounter to those who were plugged into these channels. He spurred the makers of the show to climb the mountain and amplify his message so that those further out could hear. Director Dallas Jenkins has regularly used livestreaming to share the process of filming in a way that brings a lived faith to life for others, sharing and challenging YouTube streamers to a similar vulnerability in their own prayer lives. Jenkins’ wife, Amanda Jenkins, has appeared as a guest on several livestreams to share about her experience of writing the Devotionals that accompany the series, teaching viewers not only through her written reflections but also her lived experience, how to integrate the Gospels into our everyday lives. And actor Jonathan Roumie, who plays the role of Jesus in the series, has taken to Instagram Live to pray in real time with fans of the show, focusing especially on the merciful love of Christ in teaching his followers the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Through the use of livestreaming across different media platforms, Christ’s disciples involved in The Chosen are climbing their own mountain so that Christ can amplify their small voice, among many, so that his beloved might hear him.
Pints with Aquinas Podcast Image
Another very different evangelization effort using livestreaming to expand its reach is the podcast Pints with Aquinas, hosted by Matt Fradd. While Pints with Aquinas may be a podcast, Matt Fradd and his team also film and livestream the episodes, allowing viewers to tune in and ask questions of Matt and his guests about apologetics, conversion experiences, and the spiritual life. This has developed a level of availability and interaction that no simple podcast could ever have, and has contributed to “Pints” touching people very personally and profoundly. Host Matt Fradd is also not afraid to pray live and has spoken of the importance of prayer in driving and safeguarding this mission. In acknowledgement of his own limitedness and littleness, he once said he prayed that God would allow the "mess" (he may have used a different word) of who he was as a faulted human being to be manure for the seeds of divine truth to grow in the hearts of his listeners. And, partly through the amplification of interaction that livestreaming has allowed, the Lord is clearly doing just that.
Daughters of St Paul invitation to attend their “Home for Christmas” concert
Finally, the multiplication of the little we have in offering Christ to others was powerfully demonstrated to us through the livestream of the Daughters of St Paul Christmas Concert, “Home for Christmas.” The Sisters who sing in the choir are stationed across the United States and Canada, and they were all stuck in their own locations when the pandemic struck, unable to come together to practice or to tour. But in the poverty of their limitedness, the Lord pointed them to a mountain, and told them to climb. Recording a mini-concert to be livestreamed, the message of hope and joy the angels proclaimed on that first winter’s night was amplified again across the world in the prayer and cheer of the Sisters as they sang for nearly 6000 people during the livestream, and over 26000 more in the hours that immediately followed. Hearing the testimonies of people who had never heard of the Daughters of St Paul until the livestream, and who had been deeply touched by the sincerity and hope of the Sisters’ Gospel witness, has certainly left our Sisters in awe of the ability of the Lord to amplify our small voice, and multiply our small abilities, to ensure that everyone is met with his love. And with the Daughters of St Paul concert remaining up to view on YouTube until January 10th, our Sisters trust that the Lord will continue to use this platform to reach people who may otherwise never have encountered him this Christmas.
We are small. The closer we walk with Christ, the more aware of our own littleness we become. Partly, we realize how small we are next to the immenseness of his love. And partly, we realize our littleness because we begin to burn with the desire to share that love with EVERYONE, but find that our bodies and our voices can only carry so far. This is the littleness that Christ entered into at Christmas 2000 years ago. And he hasn’t stopped entering into it. Sometimes, that littleness in a specific place and moment is enough. And sometimes, that littleness is what he brings up the mountain with him, so that all might see, all might hear, and all might encounter the truth and the love of God.
To check out the livestreams discussed in the article, click here:
The Chosen YouTube channel
Pints with Aquinas
“Home for Christmas” Daughters of St Paul Christmas Concert