Communication for Evangelization

By His Eminence Jaime L. Cardinal Sin

Welcome Homily of His Eminence Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila, at the inaugural mass for the General Assembly of UNDA, in Manila, on 1 November 1980. From the book Communication and Development, published by the Communication Foundation for Asia, 1981

My dear friends, to welcome you to the Archdiocese of Manila for a conference on Christian communication is the pleasure and privilege which has been accorded me today. I welcome you with special joy because His Holiness Pope John Paul II has made me a member of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications.

Only recently we concluded our celebration of four hundred years of Christianity in Manila, recalling the first communication of Good News in this city. We welcome you into our midst — you whose task it is to proclaim the Good News to the entire world.

The Son of God came among us to communicate God’s goodness to man. He used the Scriptures as his basic vehicle. In the scriptures were contained the history of Israel, and Yahweh’s communications with His Chosen People – through Creation, through Deliverance, and through the forming of a Nation.

This inter-communication is recorded through history, myth, parable, song, poem, prayer and prophesy. Christ used these traditions, together with the culture of his people, their daily life and their beliefs, their needs and their hopes, their environment and their customs to communicate his message.

While the core of his message was Himself as the manifestation of the Father, the medium he used to communicate himself was total language of his people. He spoke through all the symbols that were known and loved by His nation.

He went to the synagogues, to the temple, into the streets and market-places. He spoke to the people in stories, in wisdom sayings, in question-and-answer sessions, through signs and miracles proclaiming the Good News. He stood before his people as the master story teller. He dramatized his message through action, through miracles, which were the signs of inner realities, the signs of truth.
At the moment of his incarnation he became totally identified with his “audience”. This identification continued throughout his life – in his language, in his way of living, and his observance of the law. His communication was made perfect when he gave up his life; and it continues now by the giving of his Spirit to all men. Our task as communicators consists in making preparation for this ultimate communication of Christ with each individual in the Spirit, by identifying our communication with the perfect communication of Christ.

For Christian communication to be effective, it should have the same qualities as the communication of Christ: love, gracefulness, loyalty to truth.

His communication was an expression of unconditional love. This love was particularly manifest in his generosity. There was nothing he left undone, in order to communicate. He used every available means with originality, with creativity and without prejudice regarding the limited condition of man. His identity with his “audience” was total, absolute and irrevocable. In his communication, he did not calculate the cost, although he knew fully well that it would cost him everything. Even as he began to communicate, he was fully prepared to spend himself to the end – he began by emptying himself and becoming a slave.

The second discernible quality of his communication was its gracefulness. He came to reconcile God and man, to bring peace. His attitude was that of absolute friendship, without in any way being discouraged by the limitation of man: his blindness, his prejudice, his ignorance, his selfishness – even his wickedness. To all this, Christ responded with absolute friendship. In spite of constant opposition, discouragement and threats to his life, he continued to respond generously. He communicated friendship and grace.

The third attribute of Christ’s communication was loyalty to truth. Fully human and surrounded by pressures of every kind, he refused to compromise or even to de-emphasize aspects which provoked violent opposition. He was not swayed in the proclamation of the truth either by promise or by threat, nor did he use truth as a banner for rebellion. He communicated the truth always in the fullness of grace, with courage, patience and compassion. The socio-political implications of the truth proclaimed made him neither afraid nor stubborn. He consistently avoided socio-emotional ramifications of the truth, bending neither to conservation nor to liberalism merely for political advantage. He lived the truth in grace – and so Christ had credibility!

He combined idealism and compassion. He challenged his followers to attain the highest peaks of sanctity by saying, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”, but he was also the first to understand the weakness of man. He expressed his compassion saying: “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” While he fought relentlessly to uphold the ideals of absolute perfection, he never wearied of showing compassion to the individual sinner “seventy times seven times”. His whole communication was permeated with compassion.

Our communication, whatever medium it uses, will have the same content – love. Both the content and the format of our communication have to be filled with heartfelt, human love.

This communication has also to be filled with grace, permeated with friendship.

The message that we have to bring to others must always be the truth. But the final test of Christian communication has to be the spirit of compassion, creating for each individual the freedom to live and the freedom to love.

Nine years ago, the Church expressed the urgency with which modern media of social communications have to be used to proclaim the Good News to the modern world in its pastoral instruction “Inter Mirifica”. This document said: “Indeed it would be difficult to suggest that Christ’s command was being obeyed unless all the opportunities offered by the modern media to extend to vast numbers of people the announcement of his Good News were being used.”

It is this urgency which has brought you together in our city, to reach for better means of communicating God’s love to our brothers and sisters. In the name of that message which was brought into this city four hundred years ago, and in the spirit of the faith which has grown from that message. I welcome you today.

I pray that the same Spirit which filled the first Christian communicators in the Upper Room may fill your hearts and minds, and make your deliberation fruitful. I welcome each and every one of you with love and friendship, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

4 Responses to "Communication for Evangelization"

  • RAY CIOCON 03:21 PM 27/12/2011

    Reading this 1980 Homily of His Eminence (the late) Jaime Cardinal L. Sin was like reading a description of what he himself communicated of himself to us:

    the self-giving love of Jesus for all of us (Cardinal Sin’s smile was a like a burst of joy that we are who we are — God’s beloved children…just like him);

    the graciousness of God’s offer of friendship to us (Almost always he would have something funny to share and think about even as he would remind us to do the right thing);

    the faithfulness to what is true (He called us to stand for the truth many times in our life including that day of February 22, 1986 when he called upon the people to stand up and pray for peace, justice and the truth about the snap elections together with the soldiers who withdrew support from an authoritarian ruler that had lost the trust of the people).

  • Joan Butac 09:59 PM 30/11/2010

    Communication is part of our daily life and it has a big impact to us. Every word that comes out in our mouth are the representation of who we are. This is the reason why Jesus use communication to let the people know who he is and what is his mission.
    Today Jesus is using us as an instrument of communication we are his mouth, let Jesus control you life and let the people know your the son/daughter of God by your words and deeds. As a daughter of God we must only say the truth which lead us to love one another.

  • Erikka Therese Abaya 09:21 PM 15/11/2010

    Having the intention to spread the Good News is what all of us lack. Especially now that a lot of uncertainties have been happening in our country. We need the Word to keep our faith and share this faith as well to those who doubt of what God has done and can continue doing for our salvation. God created each and everyone of us to fulfill a very important mission and that is to share his Word and to have this deeper relationship with one another by means of communicating. Also, as communicators, I agree that we should only share what is true. Saying something untrue can ruin people’s lives and reputation that would eventually end up in fights and God wants us to love and understand one another. Let us practice good communication to help others and share God’s word.

  • Cris Raymund Viray 10:08 PM 11/11/2010

    It is true that in commnicating the Good news to other people; love, graceulness, loyalty, truth and love must exist.

    We can’t deny that the spreading the Good news to all the Catholics are very hard in this generation. It has been revealed in the old times that Jesus used parables, songs, and other medium to communicate to the people about God’s kingdom. Now, even though it’s hard to commnicate, we can spread God’s word through the modern technology. All we need to do is to maximize the technology but we still need to communicate personally so that compassion and love can still be felt. Remember communicatin face to face has a strong impact.

    With unity as Catholics, let us all pray to God that He will always guide us in our journey to communicate to His people and may the Holy spirit filled us with it’s power to be like the earlier communicators and to be like Christ.

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