My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Each year, the Diocese of Brooklyn, through the DeSales Media Group, joins in the annual World Communication Day celebration. The theme chosen by our Pope Francis for the 51st World Communication Day is; “Fear not, for I am with you, (Is 43:5) Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time.”
This annual event truly is an opportunity for all of the dioceses to recognize the place that communication holds in our society. We are so fortunate to have DeSales Media working for us in so many ways through our television station, NET-TV; our weekly newspaper, The Tablet; and so many other efforts in assisting our parishes in Brooklyn and Queens in developing websites or equipping our schools with the new technology necessary for them to keep pace with the new educational needs, and so many other efforts in assisting our parishes in Brooklyn and Queens.
In our diocese, this year’s World Communications Day featured His Eminence, Joseph Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, N.J., as our keynote speaker. He is one who clearly understands the place of communications and the Church, having been the Superior General of the Redemptorist Order and also the Secretary for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. As a Religious, Cardinal Tobin brings a special perspective to the work of communications in the Church. Religious, for the most part, are responsible for communicating the Word of God through educational institutions, for preaching, writing of books and through other media outlets. His keynote address to us on World Communications Day brought us some light on how we should not fear, but rather communicate hope and trust in our time even though things may seem to be difficult.
As we look to the statement of Pope Francis on this 51st celebration of World Communications Day, we recognize that as Christians we have the responsibility of communicating the Good News to the world. Our Holy Father has told us that we do not win many friends if we have long faces. We must smile, as Pope Francis does.
He tells us, “Saint Mark opens his Gospel not with relating ‘good news’ about Jesus, but rather with the good news that is Jesus himself. Indeed, reading the pages of his Gospel, we learn that its title corresponds to its content and, above all else, this content is the very person of Jesus.”
How important it is that we recognize what we communicate. It is not ourselves. As the old saying goes, “The media is the message.” And the message is Jesus. We must communicate the message through the person of Jesus. If we are not ourselves in union with the Lord, we cannot communicate Him to others no matter what we do, no matter what means we use, modern or otherwise. How important it is that we focus our attention that we need to communicate the message of the Good News.
As we look at our world today, we certainly are in need of good news. We know the controversy in our society today when we hear of “fake news,” news that is not accurate, news that does not fulfill the place of the media in our society as stated by our Constitution, that its purpose of the press must bring the truth to society.
As I constantly remind you, freedom of the press and that of religion, as it was defined by our Constitution, and that of religion are guaranteed in the same sentence of the Constitution. Why? It is because of the commonality of the truth. If religion does not bring the truth to the world, who can?
The press is charged with the same responsibility. As Jesus told us, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn 8:32) How important it is that we seek the truth and impart it in our communications, not only on a personal level, but also on an ecclesial and societal levels. The truth is what we seek. The truth is what we must speak. The truth is about the Good News.
Our Holy Father ends his message on World Communications Day by speaking about the Kingdom of God, “The Kingdom of God is already present in our midst, like a seed that is easily overlooked, yet silently takes root. Those to whom the Holy Spirit grants keen vision can see it blossoming. They do not let themselves be robbed of the joy of the Kingdom by the weeds that spring up all about.”
How important are these words to remind us that the task of communications is not easy. It is a long-term process of communicating that shares the Good News to the world. The Good News, however, cannot be communicated without the joy of the Gospel so well defined by our Holy Father, Pope Francis.
Communicating God’s Word and the Good News is certainly an exercise of putting out into the deep complicated reality of our present culture with competing communications media and messages. Only with God’s help can we expect to be effective in communicating what has been given as our responsibility from God. We ask the Lord for that help as we celebrate and pray with those who are responsible for communicating God’s message to the world.