The theme for the 2021 World Day of Social Communications, chosen by Pope Francis, echoes the words of the Apostle Philip, recognising that authentic communication leads to “encountering people as and where they are”.
Taken from the Bible, John 1: 46, the words “Come and see” are central to the Gospel. Before the Gospel is proclaimed, prior to words, there are “looks, testimonies, experiences, encounters and closeness. In a word – life.”
Pope Francis provides the subtitle “Communicating, encountering people as and where they are”.
In the Gospel of John, we read Jesus’ invitation to St Philip:
“The next day, after Jesus had decided to leave for Galilee, He met Philip and said, ‘Follow me’. Philip came from the same town, Bethsaida, as Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth’. Nathanael said to him, ‘From Nazareth? Can anything good come from that place?’ Philip replied, ‘Come and see'”.
Announcing the theme for the day, that will be celebrated worldwide on 16 May 2021, the Vatican included an accompanying message that states:
“In the epochal change we are experiencing, in a time that obliges us to social distance due to the pandemic, communication can enable the closeness that is necessary to recognise what is essential, and to truly understand the meaning of things.
“We do not know the truth if we do not experience it, if we do not meet people, if we do not participate in their joys and sorrows.
“The old saying “God meets you where you are” can be a guide for those engaged in media or communications work in the Church. In the call of the first disciples, with Jesus who went to encounter them and to invite them to follow Him, we also see the invitation to use all media, in all their forms, to reach people as they are and where they live.”
The Pope’s message on the theme is usually published on the feast of St Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists – 24 January 2021.