The Ascension of the Lord

CREATING AN AUTHENTIC CULTURE OF ENCOUNTER

By Emily VanBerkum

To celebrate World Communications Day, Pope Francis published a message for the faithful of today’s technologically advanced, globalized world. He insists that communications technology and the media have great potential to create an authentic culture of encounter. Just as Jesus ascended into heaven and commissioned his closest followers to “go and make disciples of all nations,” so too does Pope Francis call all of us to reaffirm our mission as disciples- to live as neighbours.

The following is an excerpt from Pope Francis’ message:

“How, then, can communication be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter? What does it mean for us, as disciples of the Lord, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel? In spite of our own limitations and sinfulness, how do we draw truly close to one another? These questions are summed up in what a scribe – a communicator – once asked Jesus: “And who is my neighbour?” (Lk 10:29). This question can help us to see communication in terms of “neighbourliness.” We might paraphrase the question in this way: How can we be “neighbourly” in our use of the communications media and in the new environment created by digital technology? I find an answer in the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is also a parable about communication. Those who communicate, in effect, become neighbours. The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him. Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other.”

Since social communication allows the Christian message to reach “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) we are responsible for stewarding the media so that it projects an image of the Church as a “home to all.” Conversely, Pope Francis desires that the Church itself project an image of warmth and stability which is capable of stirring hearts and minds to live as neighbours with the Good Samaritan as our guide.

You may read the entirety of Pope Francis’ message here.