Communication and Ascension
Guest editorial by Michael Shackleton – We are observing Communications Sunday again, a day that seems to penetrate little into the consciousness of Sunday Massgoers.
Yet communicating is something we cannot do without. As social beings born into communities big or small, our earliest awareness is of some other persons communicating their care for us.
Mother Nature is our exemplar of this interweaving of a multiplicity of living things, animal and vegetable, that need one another to survive. Every living organism’s relationship to every other one and their environment is important to the Church and the world right now, as Pope Francis has so incisively brought to our attention.
Mother Nature holds us all in a caring balance in a manner that can be understood loosely as each living thing communicating its intimate association with all others, its being there because the others are also there.
Human minds communicate at the highest level. They exchange ideas, emotions and information which have advanced over time from primitive signs and symbols of cooperation in a tribal social structure to sophisticated systems of non-cooperation in a modern tribal structure.
Our culture is replete with ideologies and propaganda that highlight the differences among peoples and their culture. This new tribalism shuns the views, the rights and cultural diversity of others, and feeds on hatreds and conflict.
The Church today asks us to be aware that we are members of one another, we are human communities. Our inter-communication has to sense its roots in our common humanity.
Contemporary Massgoers, in particular those using social media devices, ought to know that the internet must be the medium of peace and goodwill.
The World Wide Web, taking its description from the spider’s network of sticky threads, can be a system that is so attractive that users can be caught in it to the detriment of their moral wellbeing. This outcome is inevitable if communications are divisive and confrontational, and designed to hurt and exploit.
We are members one of another. We have to evolve from network communities to human communities, listening to one another in responsible dialogue.
At this time, our liturgy draws us into the mystery of Christ’s Ascension. Our Lord returned to his Father in his human nature with the promise that our humanity would be united with his in a glory that is unimaginably magnificent.
This oneness of all with Jesus Christ in his kingdom of everlasting life must inspire us to prepare faithfully to be with him. A sobering start would be take Communications Sunday seriously and construct a web of human decency, love and mutual compassion in our togetherness.
It is not simply communication that keeps humanity and its environment in conversation. It is the Mass-goer, as well as all Christians and people of goodwill, who can change the conversation using social media, and draw us into the liturgical celebration that we are all one in Christ who ascended to heaven to prepare a place for us.