According to Scribd.com, when it comes to the 3000 most common words in American English, the word like finds itself sandwiched between left and line. By applying a deeper analysis, Wiktionary.org declares this word to occupy the Top-100 list of basic words used within our vocabulary.
But at day’s end, is anyone surprised? After all, we are not solitary creatures; rather, we have been created for communion with others. As such, it is not groundbreaking to believe that each of us desires to be liked. Nevertheless, as with any desire, it may also be said that there are those among us who will go to great lengths to be liked.
In this internet age, social media such as FaceBook and Twitter urge us to “follow” others. And as we do, those who claim us as “friends” or “like” us within those mediums will continue to grow. But even there, on the internet’s most sacred ground, cracks have begun to surface. According to a recent USA Today article, a serious flaw in measuring likeability has been uncovered by a London-based social media management company. In the case of Twitter, StatusPeople indicates that their research has revealed that fake accounts have been set-up in an effort to bloat our popularity. And not just yours and mine, but President Obama’s and Lady Gaga’s, too! In the president’s case, it is estimated that his 18.8 million Twitter “followers” are about half that number. And in regard to Gaga, let’s not even go there. After all, who could bear the reality that her likeability numbers may be fewer than the image already etched into our minds?
Mark Twain once reflected:
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
This past month, the Church has led us through the Bread of Life discourse. Until our arrival in the 6th chapter of John’s Gospel, there had been clear sailing. In the first chapter, we heard John’s prophetic introduction of Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Shortly thereafter, Jesus calls the disciples and provides us with a sign that His public ministry has begun. And then comes the first miracle at Cana. We are told that “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” (2:11) With their belief in Jesus now established, these disciples certainly liked and loved their new friend.
But if we remember, others did not. Time after time, the Pharisees and authorities sought to trip Jesus up through His words and actions. Most definitely, if they would have had access to a laptop, Jesus would not have been on their “friend” or “like” lists.
And so we come to this dialogue and are told that the Jews murmured (6:41) among themselves after Jesus declared himself to be “the bread which came down from heaven.” But amidst what some must have felt to be a great misunderstanding, Jesus lays it down: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (6:53-54) Shortly thereafter, we are informed that “after this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went with him.” (6:66)
In my mind, I can imagine Jesus standing and watching as a multitude of former followers walk away and slowly fade from sight when suddenly, He turns His focus toward us and asks:
Will you also go away? (6:67)
And we ponder:
Love or like? Shall I follow Him always or abandon Him when the skies turn grey?
REVEREND MR. KURT GODFRYD is editor of Catholic Journal and a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit. Married and the father of five children, Deacon Kurt was ordained to the diaconate on October 4, 2008 by His Eminence Adam Cardinal Maida and is assigned to St. Clement of Rome parish in Romeo, Michigan. A native Detroiter, he was educated at the Jesuit-run University of Detroit Mercy, where he received a B.S. in finance, M.B.A., and M.A. in economics. His theological training was taken at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary, where he earned an M.A. in pastoral ministry.