And now the good news

‘Bad news is good news, good news is no news, and no news is bad news.’ I do not know who said this but it pops up on Google. I suppose it is a reflection on what ‘sells’ on the media. Bad news sells. Good news doesn’t. Maybe we can take a leaf from Google and apply it to Lent. The emphasis is on the coming struggle in Holy Week. Jesus is in the heart of it to his death. Bad news.


We can also see the struggle in Zimbabwe where bad news is our daily fare. Or we can focus on Gaza where a whole people are being slowly killed by man-made starvation. Or we can again recall the killing of Navalny in Russia where again a whole people’s hopes were dashed by a single act.

It is half-time in Lent and we stop for a moment to draw breath and reflect on the first half. It was dominated by the failures of people, ancient and modern, to live up to their calling though an under current of hope was never absent. Now we have a chance to look at our progress and the Church suggests to us that we look at the good news.

The first word of the Mass today is ‘Rejoice!’ What is there to rejoice about? The first reading tells us ‘our ancestors ridiculed God’s messengers, despised his words, laughed at his prophets.’ But it ends on a high note: a pagan king is roused to restore the temple in Jerusalem. The second reading tells us we are ‘God’s work of art’ and in another place God is likened to a potter who keeps deleting his work when it doesn’t satisfy him. What does satisfy him is ‘the one who lives by the truth and comes into the light.’

I know a man who used to carry a copy of the psalms in his pocket as people now carry their cell phone everywhere. He grasped the message of the psalms with their different moods, often gloomy to mirror our own, but often full of tender love:

Truly I have set my soul

In silence and peace.

As a child has rest in its mother’s arms 

even so my soul.  (Ps 131)

We cannot visualise the future of Zimbabwe or Gaza or Russia. But we can be sure that the time is coming when he can ‘rebuild our temple’ and, in our case, it will at last have the marks missing from the 1980 version. So it will be with Gaza and Russia. There is nothing more powerful than human beings once they set their mind to something. It may take time but it will happen. Lent assures us.

10 March 2024 Lent Sunday 4B 2 Chr 36:14…23 Eph 2:4-10 Jn 3:14-21

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