Good News…but what is it?
Read Time: 7.5 minutes
During Mass, at the end of the proclamation of the Gospel the priest, or deacon, says “The Gospel of the Lord”. At times the text by itself does not sound much like good news. For example Jesus calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers, and white washed tombs. He also predicted the destruction of the temple that happened in 69 AD in which about 2 million Jews were killed.
So what exactly is the good news (Gospel) of Jesus?
I have heard Fr. Spitzer (on his TV show – Fr Spitzer’s Universe) say that there are two kinds of conversion that ideally we would all experience.
There is the intellectual conversion. This kind involves acquiring information that allows us to address many of the hard questions of faith, to the degree that we can accept and defend our beliefs. In other words our faith makes sense to us. According to Fr. Spitzer the intellectual conversion is lacking particularly in young people today so that when they get out on their own they are easily lead away from the faith. Especially when they come to the conclusion that the faith as they know it (and they really don’t know it) does not make sense to them. This was certainly true for me. I did have some little encounters with God as a child but my understanding was lacking so much that I could not make sense of them.
There is a spiritual conversion. This kind is more difficult to understand. This conversion requires an authentic encounter with God … or perhaps many encounters over a passage of time. These encounters vary in as many ways as there are differences in people but they all open hearts to the reality that God is real and he loves “me”. In other words the heart is engaged independent of the intellect. It was not until I was an adult that I was able to allow Gods call and little proofs of his love move me to search for him.
According to Fr Spitzer we need both the intellectual and spiritual conversion experience, and of course, much grace (Divine help) is required for us to be able to understand, and accept the good news.
Well what is the good news?
Before we can appreciate the good news we must understand the bad news. The experience of life usually helps us with this. Romans 3:12 says “no one does good, not even one”, and Rom 3:23 says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. By the time I was in my thirties I was painfully aware of my shortcomings. Despite all my good intentions I did not seemed to be able to do the good I intended but more often would do the bad. I had a bad temper … just to name one of my many faults, and life was not turning out the way I had hoped. I needed help. By this time I had become an atheist and so there was no help (that I could see). The motto of an atheist is … if it is going to be it is up to me. When this fails then there is a real dilemma.
It was then that I had a spiritual conversion. Later I wrote the following psalm to reflect what God did for me.
Lord you rescued me from the pit of depression, from the sea of insanity, from the demons that tormented me, from the curse of sickness, and from the fires reserved for your enemies. It was you, oh Lord, who reached out and picked me up and set my feet on the rock; it was you who kept my enemy from stealing my life, even though I had turned away and forgotten you. But you Father did not turn away from me, and you waited until I had reaped what I had sewn, until the evil that I had not expected came upon me so that I could see the foolishness of my ways, and turn freely to you and be saved.
At a time when I was brought low by my own sin you sent your angel of truth and mercy to speak to me and tell me what I could not understand, and lead me in a way I could not find. And by your great mercy brought me back from the dead. Now I kneel before you with nothing to offer but thanks giving, praise, and service … and even these are your gift to me.
Well, for me, that is the good news! It is both personal and universal.
We can hear words like … for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in him will be saved … or, while we were still sinners Christ died for us. But unless we can put these words in the context of our own lives these words may not move us to faith. But when we hear God speak to us personally, within the context of our own lives, then we enter into faith and new life is the fruit.
Now, when I receive communion at Mass, I encounter a God who loves me unconditionally, who died for me, who forgives all my sins, who is my greatest fan, and who never gives up on me. He often speaks to me in the silence of the moment and cleanses me from all the worry and distractions of the world. He never leaves me and is always leading me in the narrow way. He has gone to prepare a place for me in heaven and my name is written in the book of life. Is there any better news than that? Yes we keep on struggling to know him and to follow him and to do good. But with his help we will not fail. God is so good … and he is never in a bad mood😇.