As one who strives to keep up with the advances in technology both to advance my ministry as a preacher and for personal enjoyment I was fascinated by the extensive coverage of the death of Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs the past week. One of the blogs that I follow and that is referenced on this blog is Whispers in the Loggia, a site which puts out news of what's going on in the Church these days. Last week I noticed that "Whispers" carried an article from Osservatore Romano about this extraordinary man. You can click on the link here to see this article--Steve Jobs.
Several things struck me about this article the most important of which is the fact that with the exception of world political leaders the Vatican does not usually reference the deaths of people outside the Church. In this case however there is a recognition that this man, who did not share our religious beliefs, was a true visionary who made a significant contribution to life in our world today. This is an example of something that I prefer to call "The Catholic vision of Life." What I mean by this is that when we Catholics are at our best (something which is not always the case) we are able to look out at the world and acknowledge the gifts that God has given to scientists, artists, politicians, etc. and affirm the results of their contributions as blessings from God even though many of them are not of our faith or even of no faith at all. At a deep level I think that this is because we look at humanity and creation in general as inherently good in spite of human sinfulness. With this belief in mind we can appreciate music, art, theater and scientific accomplishments as blessings and as ways of drawing us closer to God and each other.
Now some might point out, and correctly so, that Mr. Jobs inventions as well as other advances in modern technology can lead us down the wrong path. That is where it is up to us, a creatures of free will to use these gifts properly. In this case this Franciscan advises that we keep the motto of the Jesuits in mind--Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam--For the Greater Glory of God. If we use our computers, smart phones, etc. with that in mind a lot of good can come of it.
A second thought on Mr. Jobs and on the above mentioned article is the fact that he was called a visionary, a term often used for saints and mystics. While the Vatican was certainly not trying to canonize this man I find this term interesting because it gives praise to a faculty which I think that we humans don't use often enough--the gift of imagination. When I'm doing a parish mission and speaking to school kids I encourage them to take time to daydream (though cautioning them not to do so while in class), to use their imagination to think about possibilities for their life and to ask God to guide their dreaming. Steve Jobs is an example of what dreams can do and a challenge to all of us to strive to imagine a better. more just and peaceful world.
So lets thank God for the life of Steve Jobs and let us as well, as good Catholics, pray for the repose of his soul.
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