Something to Proclaim
Ascension Day (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Today, the solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension, is also 40th World Communications Sunday. This day reminds us of the great commission that the disciples received from the Lord , “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mk.16:15).

The proclamation of the gospel necessitates some form of communication. The dynamics of communication involve the sender, the message that is sent, the receiver of the message, the medium by which the message is sent, and also the environment in which the communication process takes place. These dynamics apply whether one is writing a letter or sending a text message.

With the easy availability of cellular phones, communication is faster these days. Whether the quality of communication has improved is another matter. I sometimes notice students in our school sending text messages to one another even if they are just within whispering distance. I do miss the days of letter writing when one has to commit one’s thoughts on paper. When one writes a letter, there is more time to think and weigh one’s words. I venture to say that there is more commitment involved in letter writing than in text messaging. But I am digressing.

Action starter: Share your experience of living the Christian life to another person.

Going back to the dynamics of communication, it is shown that there should be a sender, a message, a medium, and a receiver. However, it is also important to consider the environment in which communication takes place. It is difficult to hold a meaningful conversation in a restaurant where disco music is in full blast. When one talks over the radio and there is so much static due to a thunderstorm , the quality of exchange gets affected.

Given these dynamics, how then do we communicate the gospel today? How can we be effective communicators of the good news? I propose that we pay attention to the following elements: a)the message must be worth sending, b)the communicator-sender must be convinced and enthusiastic about the message, c)the medium must be appropriate and effective, d) the receivers must be clearly identified, e)the time, place, and situation must be taken into account.

We have to start with the message. Is it worth sending? It should make a difference in people’s lives? Will it inspire? It must be good news for its hearers. That God loves me as I am now is great news. That there are people out there who care for me is good news. That I am important enough to make a positive difference in other peoples’ lives is fantastic news. There are times though when announcing good news could mean denouncing what is evil. This too is part of proclamation.

I as follower of Jesus must be convinced about the good news. When I am convinced, I too would be looking for ways to share this to others. I cannot keep something good just for myself. As one bishop said, “When you hear good news, your tongue itches.” There is a lot of difference between a dynamic preacher and one who seems to be unconvinced about what he is saying. The testimony of one’s life is also itself a form of preaching.

There are different ways of imparting the gospel. Some artists use music and dance. Gifted preachers produce taped or compact disc presentations. There are authors who write books or articles. There is the traditional way of preaching over the pulpit. There are story-tellers. Whatever be the form of presentation, we realize that more and more we have to make use of technology and means of modern communication, especially television and electronic means. Pope John Paul II was one who used modern media to great advantage.

Given the variety of peoples and ages, proclamation cannot be done in just a general manner. One has to tailor one’s preaching to the type of audience. Children for example like to listen to stories. Other audiences may benefit from exhortations or expositions. Young people prefer songs and images.

Finally, communication is situated in a particular environment. There are elements of the culture that may aid the proclamation. The practice of helping the needy may already be imbedded among a certain group of people. The gospel, through the work of the Holy Spirit, has gone ahead of the preacher. The contrary can also be true. There may be practices alien to the gospel in a particular environment.

Whatever be the time, the place, the circumstances, in season or out of season, we are tasked with sharing the good news. As St. Paul says, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel “(1 Cor. 9:16).