When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them [a scholar of the law] tested him by asking,

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.

The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:34-40

There was quite a bit of fuss when the Pope Benedict XVI got an actual twitter account where he would tweet directly to the faithful. Actually 7 accounts in languages from German to Arabic) with a low of 8070 followers in Arabic to 728083 in English, a combined on 1m124301 followers as of 7:41 AM EST on Wednesday.

Today the Holy Father sent out his first highly anticipated tweets in fact he sent three, here they are:

OK starting with a basic greeting to all, makes sense, but now here comes…the MESSAGE:

This being the newly declared liturgical year of faith…here it comes….

A simple clear and succinct way of describing what to do as a Christian.

The message (in English) received over 5000 re-tweets in the first hour and good responses from the faithful, there are some who were not impressed.

Meet Stephan Faris

Here is his twitter profile

My first introduction to Mr. Faris was this tweet in response to the Pope today that was re-tweeted by someone I follow:

Anti-Climax? It seemed to me as the vicar of Christ the Pope was delivering the basic message that he is charged with delivering: How to follow Christ. So I asked Mr. Faris what he expected and he answered:

And THAT tweet says an awful lot.

Forgetting for a moment the confines of 140 characters per tweet. Mr. Faris objects to the simple message that “he could have written himself”. I ask: how often have you written it? How often have you thought about that simple message in terms of your own life?

There are a lot of people today who don’t understand faith, who don’t understand the Church and only see Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular through the secular progressive lens. Their only exposure to the Church is the NYT editorial page or from those who dissent from outside or from within.

To such people the concept that people might actually follow the Church and be Christian because they believe it to be true (which is the only reason to be a Christian in general and a Catholic in particular) is totally foreign to them. To them Christianity and the divinity of Christ is just a con, believers are rubes and the purpose of the Christianity is to keep them that way.

So to these enlightened elites, the concept of using a platform reaching over a million people instantly to reinforce the consistent message of Christ and the Gospel, love of God and love of your fellow man, is totally beyond their ken.

In reality helping people find Christ IS the primary job of the Pope and all Priests from the humblest friar to the most celebrated Cardinal. This is the message and purpose of the Church for 20 centuries.

The message of Christ, like the ten commandments, is simple, but because it is simple it’s very hard to follow, and needs to be reinforced whenever possible.

Most twitter accounts are about the people or organization who have them, the purpose of my account is to promote me, keep me in touch and aid me in making my living. That’s not what the Pope is shooting for. His purpose is not for his own aggrandizement but to spread the good news of Christ for the salvation of any who hear it.

I expect most of the Pope’s tweets to be along similar lines, and I also suspect they will produce the same confusion and disappointment among our secular media friends as this message did, I’d be surprised if it generates much else.

But I’m sure the Holy Father thinks and prays otherwise. His faith is much stronger than mine.

Update: And here is why it matters so much