Good news can sometimes be hard to find these days. We turn on the news; we hear of unrest, violence, division and conflict. In our community; we see others, or even ourselves, suffering from sickness or death, struggling with hardships & temptations. Sometimes the bad can feel overwhelming, and it is usually the bad, or the most debilitating situations or stories, that are brought to the forefront.
In the Gospel (Mark 1.12-15) we hear about John the Baptist being imprisoned, what horrible news, and for proclaiming the coming of Jesus. We hear of Jesus in the wilderness, facing temptations. Sounds tough and hard, to me. The important thing to remember is that the gospel reading doesn’t end there! Jesus arrives back on the scene proclaiming “Repent and believe the Good news.” Believe the Good News? What Good News? We are reminded that in our brokenness, in our sinfulness that has caused all this strife, all this bad news, because our actions do affect our neighbor, we need to turn back to God.
And that is why Jesus is here to remind us. We are reminded of why we are here; the Good News, the great plan that God has for us, to be with Him, and the whole reason why He sent us His Son. NOW, the people of Jesus’ day would not have seen as clearly as we can this connection of God’s coming kingdom, but WE HAVE the blessing of this beautiful knowledge of what Jesus brought for us.
I found this gospel reading so fitting, on this 1st Sunday of Lent, as we have only just begun our Lenten journey. The gospel summarizes what our journey will involve, a trekking through the wilderness of temptation, through our inclinations to take the easy path, or to escape, instead of embrace. It is a wilderness that helps us to draw out of ourselves, to come to a realization and strengthening of our purpose, as it was for Jesus.
SO IT IS, that we start our journey, not with a focus on the bad, on the harshness or the difficulty of it, BUT a focus on the finish, a focus on where we will end up, hopefully being able to discover and more fully live our purpose. There is hope. This is GREAT news.
AND we see it further spelled out in the book of Genesis (9.8-15), our first reading. God makes a covenant with Noah and ALL his descendants, THAT’S US, a bond initiated by God with His people to preserve them from death, to give hope. We see this message come to a pinnacle as we hear St.Peter (1 Peter 3.18-22) teaching that Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, sacrificed Himself for us, once and for all, opening a way to the Father, bridging the chasm, that sin created, and opening a path for us to the Father for all time.
“The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the Good News.” These are Jesus’ words in the Gospel. This is our call. This is our purpose. Amidst the troubles and struggles of our daily lives Jesus Christ reminds us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He brings to us all that we need. He teaches us and leads us. He journeys with us, as we hear in the Psalm, “on paths of love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 25) Paths that lead to the hope and the joy of Easter, to all who are willing to make the journey, to an opportunity of life with Him, forever!