The Greatest Good
Dear Friends in Christ:
On the 1st Sunday of Lent, I spoke about the Gospel as being Good News that Jesus desires for us. This Good News requires change and trust. The Gospel is good news of Truth, Hope, Immortality, Salvation and Joy. Another way in which the Gospel is also good news for us is that it is a Gospel of Promise. In my homily, I did not spend much time on this aspect of the Good News because quite frankly, I do not think that many of us, including myself, really reflect on the promise of the gospel. Why is this? It may be in part because in the past, there have been those who have distorted the gospel’s message of promise and reduced it to the “Gospel of Prosperity”. This distorts and reduces the Gospel and the gift of faith to little more than desiring and amassing material possessions. The more you “believe”, the more “prosperity” you get (i.e. money, yachts, mansions, fast cars etc.). History is filled with such hucksters, but they have never represented the authentic message of the gospel no matter how smooth or appealing or popular they might be. Jesus, the eternal logos, did not become flesh and die on the cross so that we could wear Prada and Gucci and drive a Bentley! The Good News of Promise is something far, far different and far better than that.
When we survey the words of Jesus and follow that with St. Paul, the other New Testament writers and we look back to the Torah and the prophets of the Old Testament, the message of the Lord is indeed one of promise. God not only makes promises, He keeps them. The story of creation is one of promise. The story of Noah is a story of promise. The story Abraham and Moses is God’s promise. Saul, David, Solomon? God’s continuing promise. But Jesus is the ultimate promise of God. What God promises us is not just ‘some’ good, a ‘little’ good or ‘sort of’ good or ‘kinda’ good, but a goodness which is so great that our minds can hardly grasp it. Yachts, mansions or the like are nothing compared to what God wants us to have. The good that God promises us and what makes His gospel is truly good news for us, is that the good He wants us to have and experience is greater than any good that we could possibly want for ourselves! Eye has not seen, ear has not heard and it has not entered the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him!” 1 Cor 2:9, Is 64:3.
For a glimpse into this, all one has to do is look at the miracles of Jesus. Instead of the miracles, Jesus could have simply given us a nice moral lesson. He could have left us with a little spiritual nugget as a memento or keepsake. It would have no doubt been true and because it was from Jesus, it would have been perfect. But Jesus did not do that. The gospels are filled with his teachings, but Jesus chose to do more than just teach with words. He performed miracles too and those miracles were over the top! He doesn’t just change water into wine – he changes it into the best of wine and in a superabundance (120 gallons worth! 600 bottles worth!). He does not just feed the multitudes a snack to bide them over. He feeds them until they are filled and can eat no more. After everyone has been filled and can eat no more, there are baskets of left overs! Jesus doesn’t just console a grieving mother, he brings her son back to life and restores son and mother. Time and time again, Jesus delivers not in sufficiency but in a super abundancy. Would the wedding guests at Cana have cared if the lesser vintage was served? Probably not. Would the thousands who were hungry been satisfied with just a little something until they could get home and fix supper? Probably. Would the grieving widow who just lost her son eventually come to grips with the sorrow of her child’s death? In time. But the promise of Jesus and the promise of the gospel is more than sufficiency. God wants the ultimate good for us. He wants good “that is shaken, packed down and overflowing” for us. And what is that good? What is that promise that is such good news? It is nothing less than God and friendship with God. It is the promise of eternal life! The Gospel of Promise is that God wants us and He wants us to have Him! Always. The Good News of Jesus is that the greatest good that we could ever imagine and more, the infinite good, beyond our imaging is ours in Jesus Christ, the one who suffered, died and rose again! When we have the promise of goodness in friendship with God, then we have the promise of the infinite and supreme good! That is a promise that changes everything. The miracles of Jesus are but teasers, mere appetizers of the greatest thing to come, eternal life and friendship with God. With such a promise, the way we see ourselves and the world is different. We see ourselves not as deprived but blessed! Not lacking in some good, but possessing all good. Like St. Thomas, when we encounter Jesus, we too know the fulfillment of promise and can cry out in joy “My Lord and My God!” Jn 20:28 or as we often sing at Holy Communion, Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all! That is a Promise of Good News!
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately