It Really Is Good News by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.
When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.
Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you." He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come." So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
I participated in two funeral Masses in the past 10 days, one for a young person and one for a not-so-young person. At both, I was deeply moved because the precious gift of our faith in Jesus Christ was proclaimed with joy, gratitude and zeal. Christ's light shone brightly in the midst of the darkness of death and loss. Both of the grieving families wanted to celebrate gratefully the life of the person that God had given to them, but they also wanted to manifest their personal faith in God as well as the faith that had animated the lives of the deceased. Their tangible love for God transformed these difficult moments into beautiful opportunities to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to everyone who came to mourn. The hearts and minds of those who attended were clearly uplifted and renewed.
St. Paul, in the first letter to the Corinthians, expresses a great zeal to share the gift of Jesus Christ with the world. His burning love for Christ, his conviction that Jesus is God's definitive and perfect answer to our broken world, and his care for humanity combined to make him a very powerful instrument in the hands of God, "I made myself the slave of all so as to win over as many as possible. To the weak I became a weak person with a view to winning the weak. I have made myself all things to all men in order to save at least some of them" (1 Cor 9:22). Paul was so overwhelmed with the Good News of Jesus that he dedicated his life to sharing it with the world.
Jesus, of course, is the model for Paul's zealous proclamation of the Gospel. In today's passage from Mark, Jesus models this zeal by tirelessly preaching to large crowds and healing mounting numbers of those "variously afflicted." Even after sunset, people keep bringing him all who are ill. After this exhausting day, Jesus gets up early the next morning and goes off to a quiet place to be alone in prayer with his heavenly Father. Even this time of prayer is interrupted by the Apostles who track him down to let him know that the crowds are again looking for him. He responds "Let us move on to the neighboring villages so that I may proclaim the good news there also. This is what I have come to do." This Good News, the truth about the greatness of God and his plan to share with us the fullness of the life of the Trinity, has to be proclaimed to as many people as possible.
Standing before the examples of Jesus, St. Paul and the two faith-filled families who buried their loved ones recently, we might do well to ask ourselves some questions. How much do I really love God? Is there a fire in my heart to share the gift of my faith in Christ, by example and word, with others? Do I share my faith with charity and joy? Do I believe that when the faith is lived and its light is shown to others, it gives life, renews the soul, provides purpose, inspired hope and brings peace?
Some Christians are afraid to share their love for Christ with their family, friends and neighbors. They fear being perceived negatively, as "Bible thumpers" or "Jesus freaks." We should never be obnoxious in the way that we share our faith with the world, but it is clear from the example of Jesus, St. Paul and other Christians we can do it naturally, joyfully and effectively even when we do it with passion and zeal. The truth is we must share our faith in Christ with others.
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