April 25, 2017
The first sentence of Mark’s Gospel as appointed for today declares, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Indeed, we know that the word “gospel” means “good news.” We call Mark “the evangelist,” or, “good news bearer.” To be bearers of the Good News of Jesus is the responsibility of every Christian person.
In one sense the very person of Jesus of Nazareth is the Good News. We see in his humanity a reconciled, whole person who lives in perfect union with God, himself and the creation. It is good news because what we see in Jesus is God’s desire for all of us. Of course Jesus was not merely telling us that we are to imitate him in some way. He was and is, in the power of the Spirit, proclaiming that God is bringing about the transformation of the entire creation in us and through us. Along the way you and I are made a new creation too.
This promise of God is sacramentalized in our baptism and renewed in confirmation. I am keenly aware that as I lay hands on someone and am holding her or him in prayer, that there standing before me is also God’s good news. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s declaration that the new creation is assured and happening even now as we walk the earth, right in the midst of humanity’s behavior that too often seeks to thwart and frustrate that vision of a reconciled world. Jesus’ life shows us that the wonder and beauty of God is working in a myriad of ways that we can never make happen left to our own devices.
Some of these ways are delightfully subtle. I was listening to a deacon of the church describe her ministry to the inmates of a jail. Need I note that in some way we are all inmates, imprisoned by something, captive to something? She said that one of the incarcerated said to her one day that she often uses a word that has become very important to him. My mind went to words like, “love, forgiveness, hope.” Much to my surprise his word was “when.” He noted that when she spoke to the imprisoned she never said, “If you get out of here one day.” She always said “When you get out of here.” For him that was good news. She was the bearer of the Good News of Jesus breaking through in an unexpected way through the simple word “when.” It happens because she shows up.
The entire cosmos awaits a word of God’s victory over everything that deals death to the creation, you and me. We are the watchmen of Isaiah 52, guarding the ruins of our own Jerusalem’s as we long to sing for joy at the sight of the one whose feet brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of salvation…who says, “Your God reigns.” In Jesus we are liberated in his promise of “when,” not “if.”