We Are the Good News!
A man was reading an article in the newspaper. “Honey, listen to this. It says here that women speak 30,000 words in one day, while men only speak 15,000 words. Imagine that? Women speak twice more than men!” The wife replied, “Well, it is because we have to repeat everything we say to you.” The man turned to his wife and said, “What?”
Human words simply have no power in themselves. That is why when we speak, there is always the need to repeat what we said. And we realize that our words are inadequate to describe something and incapable of producing the effect we desire.
The Gospel this Sunday invites us to reflect on the word that truly matters in life: the Word of God. It cannot be compared to human words; it is infinitely beyond the realm of human words. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews said that “the Word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (4:12). We see this in the act of creation. God just said it, and it happened: “’Let there be light’, and there was light” (Gen. 1:3).
Why is the Word of God so powerful and effective? It is because it is not just a spoken word but it is a Being, a Person, and indeed, it is God Himself. The Apostle John expressed it so eloquently in the Prologue of his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. And the Word was God” (Jn 1:1). The Word is God Himself. And the Word did not remain distant and abstract from us: “And the Word was made flesh, and made his dwelling among us”(Jn 1:14). Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh. He is a real and concrete Person as St. John testified: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life… we proclaim now to you” (1Jn 1:1,3).
In the Gospel this Sunday Jesus proclaimed to his listeners in the synagogue: “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” He is the fulfillment of Sacred Scriptures for he is himself the Word of God. He has come to fulfill the Good News of salvation: to proclaim the good news to the poor; to give freedom to the captives and slaves; to heal the sick; to come to the aid of those in need.
Until now, almost two weeks after that great earthquake in Haiti, we are still horrified at the tremendous loss of lives and property. Many of us must have asked the question “why”? Natural disasters are commonly referred to as “acts of God.” But that is not correct. God is not the cause of these calamities. These tragedies happen because nature is imperfect and limited. But God allows such natural evil to occur because in His infinite wisdom, He knows something good can come out. We always say, “God can write straight with crooked lines.” And so, in the case of Haiti, we saw immediately how the hand of God worked in the midst of death and extreme sufferings.
Haiti is a picture of total devastation and complete misery, but it has also become the light of the world. It opened the eyes of people all around the world. It made us realize that we are just one body as St. Paul explained in his letter to the Corinthians: “If one part suffers, all the parts of the body suffer with it.” We cannot be totally independent; rather, we are interdependent, for we are all brothers and sisters, children of the same one God.
The result of this awakening is truly a great miracle, turning disaster and sufferings into blessings in disguise. The outpouring of support is immediate and massive, global and unprecedented. Even schoolchildren in many parts of the world raise funds for the relief efforts. People discovered that cell phone texting can also be used to send donations. The worst of times can bring out the best in people. The devastation has produced many great souls, heroes and martyrs. Indeed, Jesus, the Savior of the world is very much alive and powerful in the world today. He continues to give the good news to the poor, liberty to captives, comfort to the suffering and salvation to all. He does all these through the hearts and hands of his faithful followers. He continues to be alive and active in the hearts of those who receive the living Word of God.
We are aware that what happened in Haiti may also happen in some other parts of the world at any given moment. We are also aware that sufferings, injustices, oppression, and all forms of human tragedy take place every day and everywhere. The Word of God challenges us to respond in charity, generosity and compassion – not only occasionally and seasonally, but as our way of life. God’s Word must be incarnated in our lives so that we ourselves become the living Gospel, the Good News today. Through a life completely permeated by the Word of God, may we make Jesus truly alive and present in this world that is full of sufferings and pain. As followers of Jesus, it is also our mission to proclaim the good news to the poor, liberty to captives, comfort to the suffering and salvation to all. In closing, let us ponder on this short poem written by an anonymous author:
“You are writing a Gospel, a chapter each day,
By the deeds that you do, and the words that you say.
Men read what you write, if it’s false or it’s true.
Now what is the Gospel according to you?” (Quotes and Anecdotes, by Anthony Castle, p. 152)
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Teresa Church
New York, NY 10002