Witnessing to the gospel in the age of digital media

Published May 29, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Manila Bulletin


Luke brings his Gospel to a close with the report of the Ascension. He will also begin the story of the Church with a recounting of the Ascension (First Reading). The Gospel gives us the impression that Jesus ascends on the same day as his resurrection, while Acts tells us that Jesus ascends 40 days after his resurrection. The Gospel puts it on Easter Sunday night to highlight the association of Jesus’ ascension with his resurrection. In Acts, however, Luke historicizes the ascension by speaking of 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension. Luke knew that he was not writing a historical book. The ascension is a literary symbol, his way of drawing a line between Jesus’ earthly mission and the beginning of the mission of his disciples.

The Synoptic Gospels agree with each other in recounting that at the end of Jesus’ life on earth, his disciples are sent to mission. Mark speaks of the sending of the disciples “into the whole world… and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (16:15). Matthew’s version is to “make disciples of all nations” (28:19). Hence, the Church has always viewed herself as a missionary Church in obedience to the command of Jesus.

This Sunday is also World Communications Day. On the day of the Lord’s ascension, the disciples are instructed to remain in Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit and to preach the good news to every creature. Hence, on the solemnity of the Ascension, the Church celebrates World Communications Day. This occasion reminds us of our duty to spread the Good News. The social media is the fastest, the most efficient, and the most common platform by which people communicate. We are encouraged to use it to promote the good, the true, and the beautiful that the Gospel brings. Vatican II’s decree Inter Mirifica urges the faithful to use the media of communication at the service of the preaching of the Word. The decree also sees both the benefits and risks of its use: “The Church recognizes that these media, if properly utilized, can be of great service to mankind, since they greatly contribute to men’s entertainment and instruction as well as to the spread and support of the Kingdom of God. The Church recognizes, too, that men can employ these media contrary to the plan of the Creator and to their own loss. Indeed, the Church experiences maternal grief at the harm all too often done to society by their evil use” (IM, 2). Let us pray that today’s internet and social media may indeed be used only for evangelization, to promote God’s truth, and to uplift the God-given dignity of all peoples.

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2022,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.