Seeing the Good in the Good News

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells us to ‘Repent and believe in the Gospel.’ The word gospel literally means ‘good news,’ and so Jesus is telling us to repent and believe in the Good News of His life, death, and resurrection.

As Christians, we are called to share the Gospel with others. But why is it that sometimes the Good News doesn’t seem so good? Father Matthew Spencer, OSJ recently discussed this on St. Joseph’s Workshop and gave some insight as to why the world may not see the good of the Good News, and the challenge that presents to us as Christians. He said:

“I wonder if you are really convinced that what we are living as Christians is really good news. You think about the demands that Jesus places on you. You have to suffer in life, you have to forgive people who hurt you, you have to be generous and share with less fortunate people your money and your time. I mean, this is what it means to be Christian: to be generous, to give of our own lives for others, to forgive. We do this in imitation of Jesus Himself.

But that sounds really hard. It sounds like really difficult news, not always like really good news. In fact, the world hears this idea and says, ‘That doesn’t sound like good news to me. That sounds like the opposite of what I want to do. I don’t want to have to forgive people who hurt me. I don’t want to have to suffer. I don’t want to give away the things I’ve earned of my own accord. I want to live the life that I want to live, and I want to experience nothing but comfort in this life.’

It doesn’t sound like Good News. And yet, it is. … You know that it’s good news. And it’s not because we have to suffer. It’s not because we have to forgive. That’s not necessarily the Good News. Those are only the means to the Good News, which is that you and I have been redeemed by Jesus, and the beginnings of our salvation are underway. And if we cooperate with it, if we embrace the challenging teachings of Jesus, then this leads to eternal life in Christ. That’s why it’s Good News. That’s why it’s the best news we’ve ever heard. That’s why we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

That’s the Good News. Why is it that the world doesn’t get it? Why is it that the world doesn’t quite understand? I think in part it is because you and I don’t always believe it is good news. We receive it and sometimes we become bitter because of what we have to do in Christ. We become resentful that we have to leave behind those tantalizing sins that we tried to enjoy for so many years. We become saddened that we have to change our life to follow Christ. And all of a sudden, to the world it looks like it’s not good news. It looks like we’re disappointed by this call. It looks like we’re at least gritting our teeth and bearing it.

That’s where I think there is a real challenge to each one of us of how we’re called to live this Good News better. If we could give a truly joyful witness to the Good News, if you and I could live out the teachings of Jesus where it is not one where we become tired, despondent, or depressed about the world or our very lives.

Our joy invites others into the great mystery of, yes, the Cross, but also the Resurrection. People really want resurrection. People really want to be saved from the crosses and sufferings in their lives. You and I, we can point them in the right direction. We can point them to what Jesus is inviting them to. To resurrection and to new life.

Look at the way you are sharing the joy of the Gospel, or maybe the way you are not always as joyful in your life in Christ as you could be. Maybe there is an invitation here. To recognize that what you and I have received is Good News, but we need to be willing to give a witness to that in our world today, which needs joy so much.”

Listen to the full reflection below:

St. Joseph’s Workshop with Father Matthew Spencer airs weekdays at 7:00 p.m. Eastern/4:00 p.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.