Bad News, Good News
[Jesus] went on to say, “Countries will fight each other; kingdoms will attack one another. There will be terrible earthquakes, famines, and plagues everywhere; there will be strange and terrifying things coming from the sky. Before all these things take place, however, you will be arrested and persecuted; you will be handed over to be tried in synagogues and be put in prison; you will be brought before kings and rulers for my sake. This will be your chance to tell the Good News…” Luke 21: 10-13
Wars and earthquakes…arrests and persecution…it sure doesn’t sound like a chance to tell the Good News. It sounds like today’s headlines. Jesus told his followers to be of good cheer even though there would always be tribulation in the world, because He had overcome the world. But when we’re confronted with pain and suffering—on a global scale or under our own roof—it’s hard to focus on anything else. It hurts too much. So where’s the good news? We may have to look for it, but God is at work to bring good out of anything. Even in the horror of 9/11, heroic acts of bravery and selflessness inspired us; compassion and sense of solidarity drew people together; many were shaken free of complacency and re-evaluated their priorities.
Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better, like the crisis that breaks through an addict’s denial and convinces him to get help. Problems may be uncomfortable and overwhelming, but they bring us to the end of ourselves, to the end of our limited understanding and abilities. Sometimes it’s only then that we turn to a source of power outside ourselves and find God waiting for us with open arms.
Looking for perfect contentment in the world leads to disappointment because the world doesn’t have to give. The good news is that this world doesn’t have the last word. Pain and death don’t have the final say. Easter Sunday followed Good Friday. St. Paul tells us that what’s eternal is love—something no disaster or catastrophe can destroy.
Prayer: Lord, grant us eyes of faith to see the Good News that the world cannot give.
Reflection for sharing: What disasters (environmental, economic, personal) have you survived? What got you through it? In retrospect, can you see any good that came from the situation?