The 54th World Communications Day will take place on May 9 in Australia, with this year’s theme being “Come and see: Communicating by encountering people as and where they are”.
It is an invitation not just to media professionals, but to the whole Church, to discern news, to go beyond the screens and what we read, and to be in relationship with others.
“Come and See” is the first invitation of Jesus to the disciples and is forever an invitation to the People of God to encounter Christ. But where do we go and what do we look for?
In our comfort and confidence, some Catholics may interpret and limit this invitation to the world to come and see “us”, to return to our churches and find Jesus here. Yet Pope Francis continues to challenge us to go out into the peripheries to find Christ in the marginalised and poor.
In his message for World Communications Day 2021 published on January 23, Pope Francis highlights and thanks those journalists who reflect, consider and then go out to share the stories of persecuted minorities. Often they put their own lives at risk to share these stories which influence our society and humanity.
However, news can also be skewed or filtered by those who present or edit it. Platforms like social media and the internet more broadly offer great opportunities for more diverse stories or different perspectives to share. But these platforms are also subject to false truths and bullying. Pope Francis calls for media professionals and all people to be discerning in what they read, interpret, share and make comments on from behind a screen.
To discern and to find the truth amid various stories, Pope Francis reminds us that “nothing replaces seeing things at first hand”. Christ is not only within us, but also in the world. The invitation to “Come and See” is spoken through those at risk, marginalised, poor and persecuted. We are encouraged to move beyond the screens in our hands and homes and to go out and be in relationship with others to discover Christ and the truth.
Pope Francis writes: “The Gospel comes alive in our own day, whenever we accept the compelling witness of people whose lives have been changed by their encounter with Jesus.
“The challenge that awaits us, then, is to communicate by encountering people, where they are and as they are,” he concludes.
We are a “Come and See” people and a “Go and Tell” people. We are called to be the presence and seek out the presence of Christ in the world. In doing so, we have a responsibility to share Christ with the world through action and word.
This year’s World Communications Day message is an invitation to begin this cycle and live as missionary disciples. How can you move beyond the screen and back out into the world post-COVID-19?
Read Pope Francis’ message for World Communications Day here: http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/communications/documents/papa-francesco_20210123_messaggio-comunicazioni-sociali.html
*Each year the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference produces a range of resources for World Communications Day. Resources for this year’s event are expected to be available in the week prior to May 9.
Words: NCE Team
Image: Leroy Skalstad, Pixabay