My Dear Friends in Christ
May the Good News of our Savior Jesus Christ come upon you in the power of the Holy Spirit and warm your hearts to his love. So how was your last week? Did you watch the news? Was it any good? I picked up a paper on Wedensday and read that someone had been stabbed over in Mason City. I thought to myself, well thank goodness that I don’t live over there, as though it couldn’t happen here. The Penn State sexual abuse scandal continues to be in the headlines as more and more young people come forward claiming to be abused. And, of course, it only took a few days for people to connect this scandal to the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Our country’s economy, well to be honest it really is the world’s economy but still, the economy is still in the toilet and no one seems to be able to do anything about it. And I don’t know about you but I hate this time of year. I hate the fact that it gets dark so early and waits so long in the morning before we get to see the sun again.
In the midst of this, we hear in both the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah and in the Gospel from John the Baptist the hopeful message of GOOD NEWS! In the first reading, we heard a rare positive message from the prophet. It took him 40 chapters to finally get there and, in order to get there, we had to slog through warnings of impending doom if the people didn’t reform their ways. But, finally, in the 40th chapter, Isaiah turns to us out of nowhere and says, “Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings; cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news! Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God!” It’s as though God is saying to us that he knows there’s a lot of fear out there. He knows that some of you are wondering where the money is going to come from to make this a special Christmas. He knows that some of you are worried about some hard feelings between you and your relatives that may rear their ugly head at Christmas gatherings. He knows that some of you are worried about finding jobs or keeping jobs. He knows that some of you are worried that you or your parents or someone else you care about might not make it through this Winter and he saying to us, “Fear not…God is here to save you.”
What a great message of hope! Jesus came into the world and now we await his return in glory. We do so as we listen to the words of John the Baptist. John is this wild man living in the desert on whatever he can salvage. We can learn a thing or two from John. God may not provide filet mignon. He may not supply escargot. But he has given us our daily bread; his body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist. But John’s message of Good News is different than we are used to. He points to one mightier than he who is coming after him. He is not worthy to do the job of servant for this one coming after him. Think about that. John is probably the holiest person of his time and he’s not even important enough to be Jesus’ servant. John’s message is one of total humility.
In our world today, we could use a little humble Good News. This is why Fr. Lippstock and the deanery vocation committee have organized this vocation awareness event in a couple of weeks for people who are considering priesthood or religious life. We need people who can tell glad tidings of Good News, especially priests and religious. Yet, in all honesty, we are all called to be people of Good News who spread the light of Christ to all the world. So here’s my challenge to you: This coming week choose some way to interject Good News into your world. It can be as big as trying to organize a Bible study among your coworkers or friends or as small as saying hello to that person you normally avoid at work or school. Let all the world know the Good News that Jesus Christ has come into the world and that he will come again in glory.