The Good News
In the Gospel Reading for this Sunday, Jesus talks about things that will happen to his followers at some end time. The Greek word translated ‘gospel’ means ‘good news.’ And what good things is Jesus predicting? Well, earthquakes, famines, plagues, wars, persecutions, betrayals, imprisonment, and executions.
A person could be forgiven for wondering what happened to the good news.
But what makes a life good for Christians? Isn’t it being Christ-like?
What was Christ like?
In his infancy, he lived through the war that King Herod waged against the children of Bethlehem. In his childhood, he lived in a country that was conquered by the Romans. In his adulthood, he was betrayed by his intimate friend Judas. And at the end of his life, he was persecuted and put to death by the rulers of his society. All the things—well, virtually all the things—that Jesus predicted for his people in the end time were part of his own life, too.
So if you were hoping for a life of ease, leisure, and video games, you weren’t hoping to be Christ-like, were you?
But what is good about Christ-likeness, you might think to yourself, if this is what it turns out to be? Why isn’t Jesus’ prediction just depressing?
Well, look at the First Reading. It seems to be depicting an end time, too, doesn’t it? Only this end time must come after the time Jesus is describing. In the time Jesus is talking about, the bad guys win. In the end time the First Reading portrays, the bad guys lose; and they lose big. They don’t mange to hang on to either their past—their roots, or their future—their branches. Everything that goes to make them up is lost by fire.
Who would want to be them?
In the final end time that the First Reading predicts, everyone will be able to understand what is good about being Christ-like. At that time, Christ will come as the Sun of Justice. All those who are like him will live forever with him; and, like him, they will shine like the sun.
So if we are like Christ in his first coming, in his suffering, we will be found like him at his second coming, too.
That is good news, isn’t it?
Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University
**From Saint Louis University