The Good Word for February 15th

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

A friend of mine just told me that she is expecting. She couldn’t wait to share the good news. She was so excited to expand her family and bring a new life into the world. When she told me, her face lit up and she could barely get the words out she was so over come with joy. Have you ever had such good news you couldn’t wait to share?

In the gospel today, Jesus heals a leper. But this wasn’t just a simple healing of a skin disease. This wasn’t even saving the man’s life from leprosy. We hear in the first reading that lepers were required to live away from society. They were to demonstrate that they were unclean by dressing differently. And when they approached someone, they were to yell out the words, “Unclean! Unclean!” Can you imagine that today? Now imagine being healed. This man wasn’t just healed; his place in society was restored. He could again live with family and friends. He could enter the market place. He could actually practice his Jewish faith again. Jesus didn’t simply save this man’s life. Jesus gave back his life, dignity, and worthiness.

Receiving such a great gift, the man couldn’t be silent, even though Jesus tells him to. The former leper goes and immediately begins to tell other people that Jesus healed him. He was so vocal about it that Jesus couldn’t enter a town openly.

By Jesus’ healing action, he actually traded places with the man in a way. Now Jesus has to live in the deserted places just as the leper used to. Now Jesus gets announced every town he enters just like the leper used to have to do.

Jesus doesn’t want to just improve our lives. He doesn’t want to make us better. He wants to radically change everything. Jesus wants to turn our lives completely upside down and the result will be that our lives will be saved. Jesus wants to change everything because only a radical reorientation of our lives will lead to eternal life. This change is such good news that when we truly experience it, we too won’t be able to contain ourselves. Instead, we will shout the good news from the rooftops, “Jesus saved me! My life is completely different because Jesus healed me!”

Live It:
From now until Ash Wednesday (Feb 18th), pray this simple prayer every night, “Jesus if you wish, you can change my life.”

The Good Word for January 25

For the complete Sunday readings click here.

In the gospel today two things happen. First, Jesus declares that the kingdom of God is at hand. Second Jesus calls his first disciples to follow him. Though it doesn’t seem like it, these two sections of the gospel are very much interrelated.

When Jesus declares the kingdom and invites us to repent and believe, he really is announcing good news! In the kingdom of God the hungry are fed, the broken are fixed, the angry are calmed, the sick are healed, the lonely are included, the thirsty are given water, the tired are given rest, the naked are clothed, and much more! This is great news, but lets make it more tangible. By the time you are done reading this blog, 3 people, likely children, will have died from unclean drinking water (get the facts on clean water.) In the kingdom of God that Jesus is declaring, that won’t happen. This really is good news.

Jesus then invites us to repent, which is another way of saying that we have the opportunity to repent because in the kingdom of God, the sinner can be forgiven. He then ends his statement by saying that we can trust this good news to be true.

The very next story is about Jesus going out to call people to follow him, see the good news first hand, and then continue to spread the good news through their lives. Jesus declares the kingdom and then calls people to live it.

The thing is that you and I are also called. Jesus Christ is calling us to not just be Christian in name, but to be true believers of the kingdom of God, the good news that sins are forgiven and all will be made right. And as disciples, just like Simon and Andrew, James and John, we are called to go out and tell others about the good news.

Live It:
Sometimes it’s hard to really hear the good news because we’ve heard stories about Jesus our whole life. This week take out your Bible (or look it up here) and read John 3:16-17 and pretend you are reading it for the first time. It really is good news.