What and How We Must Communicate To Our World In This Age!
Readings: 1st: Acts 1: 12-14; Ps 26: 1.4.7-8; 2nd: 1Pt 4: 13-16; Gos Jh 17: 1-11
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans), Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today, the 7th Sunday of Easter is World Communications Day. In light of this, we must appreciate Christ’s prayer to the Father to give Eternal Life, to all of us entrusted to him. The Holy Spirit is Christ’s and the Church’s source of prayer and praise. He is also the Chief Communicator, the one who enlightens us on what to communicate and on how to go about it. Let us therefore this great Sunday, invite the Spirit of God to rest upon us as we offer sacrifice of praise to God. Giving the significance of this special Sunday, there is no better way to begin today’s brief reflection and homily than to listen to the Holy Father: “Today we are living in a world which is growing ever “smaller” and where, as a result, it would seem to be easier for all of us to be neighbours. Developments in travel and communications technology are bringing us closer together and making us more connected, even as globalization makes us increasingly interdependent. Nonetheless, divisions, which are sometimes quite deep, continue to exist within our human family…In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all. Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity…The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.” (From the message of Pope Francis for the 48th World Communications Day: “Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter”, Sunday, 1 June 2014).
The pertinent question we must ask ourselves today is: What are we to communicate to our world, and how best do we go about it? The essentials we must communicate include: Faith to a world that is fast rejecting God as the Creator. Paul asks: “But…how can they believe if the message has not been proclaimed…So then, faith comes from hearing the message and the message through preaching Christ” (Rom 10, 14-17). We must communicate Love to a world bedeviled with hatred, bitterness and rancor. We must communicate Peace just as Christ communicated it to his disciple, “peace be with you”, (John 19, 21), to a world in absolute chaos. We must communicate Hope to a despairing world where most people’s future looks very bleak and hangs in the balance. We must communicate Unity once again in the words of Christ, “may they be one” (John 17, 21), to a world so divided that “everything seemed to have fallen apart and the center can no longer hold”. We must communicate Eternal Life (which is Jesus Christ Himself) to a world that is approaching its “Omega/Zero point” and its eminent demise. The last but not the least, we must communicate Justice to a world with an unprecedented and “scandalous gap between the opulence of the wealthy and the utter destitution of the poor,” a world where the majority of its “inmates” suffer from many forms of exclusion, marginalization and poverty due to a combination of economic, political, ideological, and, sadly, even religious motives.
In today’s first reading, the church reminds us of the need to be up and doing like the early disciples of Jesus. For us to effectively communicate Christ to our world, we must first wait on the Lord to equip us. To wait on the Lord means, going into our closet to pray earnestly for the strength to lunch into our mission, it means inviting the Holy Spirit to fill us with the message, energize and empower us. Communicating the good news is not a task to be approached carnally. One must be duly educated and prepared by the Holy Spirit because the message we are to bear is not a carnal one. Hence, we must patiently not only pass through the school of the Holy Spirit, but through his furnace and crucible as the Disciples of Christ did by heeding his injunction: “Do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift I told you about…” (Acts 1: 5). The disciples did not take this for granted, because if they had done otherwise, their mission would have been a total failure, and their message, even if communicated with the most technologically advanced media would have been a flatus vocis, to their listener. Unfortunately, in our own time, many “men and women of God” have neglected this injunction. We have left the part and path of praying and wondered away playing. The end results has been woeful failure because, rather than preach and communicate the crucified and risen Christ we end up preaching and communicating ourselves. This is why banners, posters, hand bills and all form of media ads for crusades, seminars, workshops, revivals and even pastoral visits must bear a well polished and “galvanized” photograph of “the wonder – working man or woman of God”, else people will not turn up. This is a complete aberration of how communication should aid in the spreading of the gospel. Communication of the good news starts in our closets, upper rooms, and in our “mitochondria.” It is here that we receive the message, the language, and the modus operandi for communicating the message. If we fail in there, no size of bill boards, microphones or megaphones, speakers, etcetera will convince anyone that listens to us.
In the second reading, Peter reminds us of the fact that in our bid to communicate Christ and the above essentials to the world it is definitely not going to be an easy task. However, we should be consoled and be gladden by the fact that “we have some share in the sufferings of Christ because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.” Therefore the many obstacles, challenges, and persecution we shall encounter, even with the best of modern technologies in communicating Christ and these essentials to our world must be seen as our contribution to the good of our world. Therefore, Peter encourages us today to remain steadfast in the mission of communicating Christ to our world. In today’s gospel, Jesus having completed his mission according to the mind of the Father, confidently, requested the Father to glorify him. It is important to note that this confidence stemmed from the quality of work He did for the Father. He communicated eternal life to his disciples. Therefore, we as Christians on this day are equally called upon to transmit and communicate the same eternal life to our world. As Christ pointed out, eternal life is to know God and Christ the son of God. Paul realized this and insisted thus: “All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 310-11). The world yearns for this, and we must give it to them. We must teach our world how to rely on prayer, how to live in harmony, and how to love one another. These are the things that Christ taught, and we in turn must become the medium through which to communicate them to our world.
Arise Christians! Take over modern means of communications available, dominate them, and through these wonderful gifts make God and Christ known to our world through the power of the Holy Spirit. As we celebrate World Communications Day this Sunday, let us pray to God to grant us the Spirit that will help, equip, and teach us what, and how to communicate to our world for its upliftment and good. Therefore, let us bid: “Come, Oh Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful and en-kindle in us the fire of your love and mission. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Peace be with you all!!