World Communications Day: "Life becomes history"
Posted: Tue, 19 May 2020 12:20
A reflection for the 7th Sunday of Easter, World Communications Sunday, by Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB. Photo: Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference
We find ourselves in this 'waiting time' between the celebration of Ascension and the remembrance of Pentecost. On this day, we recall that the disciples are still in their prayerful lockdown with Mary in the home of Eucharist, the Upper Room. They have to face that Christ has left them to return home; they are naturally scared and grieving as they share another type of Advent-they are once again WAITING in hope! Like many of us today, these disciples are confused and worried about their future; like us, they have to keep up a brave face for the sake of those we live with. Often the tears we shed are tears we cry in the silence of our aloneness, as we do not want to upset those we love.
Today we are invited to celebrate World Communications Sunday; back in January, Pope Francis introduced the theme, unaware of how the Eucharistic family of God would have to celebrate today. Unaware of the death that pandemic has brought; unaware of international chaos that we have had to endure; unaware of the physical isolation that lockdown has invited us to share:
That you may tell your children and grandchildren (Ex 10:2)
Life becomes history
We all have an ultimate desire to communicate and to SHARE our story with those we meet on the journey of life-we are also called to LISTEN to their story too because communication involves a dynamic of sharing, as the Easter Story so vividly reminds us.?The paradox of Covid-19 is that communication, for many, has actually improved through social media; grandparents can tell goodnight stories through Zoom or Viber. Students and pupils can attend their classes and share their work. The Parish family can gather for virtual Eucharist every Sunday. In the lockdown we have had to be creative in our desire to tell the story. However, there is nothing wrong in looking forward to that time when we can share hands in friendship or offer that hug of all-embracing peace. Therefore, we are to communicate hope to our world where the future of humanity seems bleak, with pandemic, recession and unemployment looming. We are to communicate love to a world that displays elements of hatred with war and pettiness. We are to communicate peace to a world in confusion, just as Christ himself communicated it to his disciple, "peace be with you, (John 19, 21). We must communicate unity to a world so divided, as Christ prayed for it, "may they be one," (John 17, 21). We must communicate justice to a world with an unprecedented and scandalous gap between the poor and the rich. We must communicate Eternal Life to a world that reports death, in huge numbers, on the nightly news. In the Gospel today Jesus talks of sharing his glory: his words are not of the Cross but of Easter Day.
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
"Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you"
John 17: 1
In the waiting of Lent, "glory" is scrubbed from our liturgy so that the splendour of the Easter Vigil hits us even more: the joyous glory of Easter is revealed through flowers, hymns, white and gold vestments that obscure the broken, battered and bruised Jesus carrying the Cross to Calvary. However , as this pandemic has very strongly shown us, we cannot achieve glory without pain and hurt-that's the life-giving story that the Pope wants us to share with those we love, even more at this time of crisis. Christian life is not an eternal running through the fields, rich with flowers, singing "Bind us Together!" I suspect that many of us share the experience and Christian reality of the Jesuit poet, Daniel Berrigan: "If you want to follow Jesus, you better look good on wood!"
Use these times to share your story; children and grandchildren can learn more from you than an annual subscription to 'Ancestry.com.' Actually you have no excuse - unless you count binge watching Gogglebox! You have so much to share and the world is better for it, as Paul reminds his friends in Corinth:
You are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts"
2 Cor 3:3
In our sharing the lockdown of the disciples, we can become a stronger Church. We build each other up in confidence, trust and faith. Today is a good day to remember all those agencies of our Church that help us to share Good News', especially in an era of so-called 'fake news'. Thank God for the Salesian Office of Media and Social Communication in our own Province. In his glory, Jesus is our 'way, truth and life' (John 14:6) In his message for today, Pope Francis tells us:
When we remember the love that created and saved us, when we make love a part of our daily stories, when we weave the tapestry of our days with mercy, we are turning another page. We no longer remain tied to regrets and sadness, bound to an unhealthy memory that burdens our hearts; rather, by opening ourselves to others, we open ourselves to the same vision of the great storyteller. (Message for World Communications Sunday 24th January 2020)
So today we we have eyes to see the root of injustice in our society and ears to hear the eternal cry of the poor. Pray that we have the courage to bear the weight of those crosses placed upon us as we follow Jesus and may we have the strength and will to take up those crosses that are not ours. Today we are invited to embrace GLORY-don't be afraid to accept it as it is yours just for the sharing!
Prayer for World Communications Sunday
O Mary, woman and mother, you wove the divine Word in your womb, you recounted by your life the magnificent works of God. Listen to our stories, hold them in your heart and make your own the stories that no one wants to hear. Teach us to recognize the good thread that runs through history. Look at the tangled knots in our life that paralyze our memory. By your gentle hands, every knot can be untied. Woman of the Spirit, mother of trust, inspire us too. Help us build stories of peace, stories that point to the future. And show us the way to live them together.
Fr Gerry SDB