Heralds and witnesses of God’s saving love
Ascension of the Lord, Year B (Mark 16:15-20)
52nd World Communications Day
May 13, 2018
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
THE glorification of Christ at his Ascension ushered in the time of the Church – the time of the proclamation of the Gospel addressed to all peoples through the cracking voice of men who were themselves frail and sinful. By human standards, their preaching would have been a short-lived effort, doomed to fail from the very start. And yet, after almost two thousand years and millions of setbacks, the preaching goes on, as relevant and as challenging as ever.
The reason for this astonishing phenomenon? Christ has been keeping the promise he made to his apostles: “I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Mt 28:20). Indeed, the Risen Christ has been all along with his people “working with them and confirming the word with accompanying signs.” (See end of today’s Gospel.) He is ever present in his Church, in the sacraments, and in the Word which the Church treasures, proclaims and witnesses to.
It is thanks to the unfailing presence of the Risen Christ that his Word displays a freshness which makes it contemporary with all generations, and possesses a richness which makes it relevant to all cultures and circumstances.
The heart of the Word proclaimed by the Church is the GOSPEL, the GOOD NEWS that God has reconciled all human beings to Himself in Jesus Christ (see Rom 5:10-11), and has exalted Jesus above all creatures by seating him at His right hand (see Eph 1:20.22 and Mk 16:19).
The “Good News” is not simply about Christ’s glorification. It is also about its saving effects on all men and women of all times and places, for he has gone to prepare “a place” for all, so that where he is, his brothers and sisters may also be. (See Jn 14:13.) In this way, the wonder of Jesus’ resurrection and mankind’s redemption is announced not as a chronicle of a distant past, but as a saving reality rooted in history, affecting positively all human beings in every age, and spanning into eternity.
Such a blessing can be experienced personally by all through a response of faith to the proclamation of the “Good News” and through living by its values. And, having experienced it in our lives, we are also expected to proclaim it to others. Likewise, we have to witness to the Good News of the Gospel through a life characterized by serenity, generosity, peace, and all other qualities that make the environment in which we live a little heaven. Thus, in a world perpetually saddened by hosts of bad news, the proclamation of the “Good News” of Jesus Christ remains the perennial source of pure joy for all, as Pope Francis reminds us in his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium.”
This proclamation of the life-giving message of the Gospel has to be pursued and ever more expanded through all means of social communication. These are wonderful and powerful aids offered to today’s heralds of the Gospel. It is their privilege and duty to use them with wisdom, creativity, and spirit of faith. In this way, the proclamation of the Good News to as many people as possible through the media will be like a bright torch held aloft by the Church in the dark night of a world still under the spell of Satan. With the help of these media, mankind will be conquered by Christ and presented by him to the Father as a glorious homage. (See 1 Cor 15:24.)