Good news. It is hard to find in the media anymore. Whether it is your local newspaper or television news channel or a national news program on cable, good news is rarely the topic of the day. Rather, each day we are met with new headlines that remind us how broken our world is: violence, prejudice, greed, abuse of power, hatred, anger, and injustice. For most people, it can be overwhelming, if not downright depressing. Add to the fact that the news now runs 24 hours a day on so many media formats, it is no wonder that we have become intoxicated with a steady stream of bad news.
In the Gospel of Luke, there is the story of Jesus’ encounter with a woman who had suffered from a bleeding problem for 12 years. She had sought help from doctors, but no one could heal her. She had exhausted her financial resources. For 12 years, all she had known was bad news. With such a health problem, she would have been declared “unclean” and forced to live a life of isolation. We could understand if she just gave up and surrendered to the bad news and immersed herself in a sea of despair.
However, rather than surrender to despair, she immersed herself into a sea of people that had surrounded Jesus. She believed if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, then it would be enough to heal her. Swimming against the bad news currents in her life, she reached out and indeed touched Jesus’ clothing. Luke tells us that “immediately her hemorrhage stopped.
Luke goes on to tell us that Jesus immediately knew someone had touched him in an act of faith because he sensed the power that flowed out of him. The woman realized that she could no longer hide behind the crowd of people. Coming forward to Jesus she confessed what she had done and how she had been healed. Jesus responds to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48) Twelve years of bad news had given way to the good news. The hope for her bad news life would only be found in the good news of Jesus.
In our bad news world, the only real hope for all of us is the good news of Jesus Christ. Only Christ can transform a broken world and bring peace as he did to this woman. In Mark 1:1 we read his introduction to Jesus: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” This is the headline news for all of us. In Jesus, God has stepped into our broken world with the good news of hope and new life. In Jesus, we now have an eternal source of good news to draw forth life, hope, peace, and joy. It doesn’t mean that all the bad news in our lives will suddenly disappear. It does, however, give us a new frame of reference to understand our world and our lives. We do not have to surrender to despair, but like the woman, we can work against the current of bad news with the power and passion of the Gospel.
And we do this, by living out Jesus’ example of loving others, offering compassion and kindness to all, and allowing God to use us as conduits of his mercy and grace. It is a high calling that demands we not give in to the bad news but rather to seek to transform it into something good. Don’t stop watching the news but remember that ultimately it is the good news of our Lord that tells us who we are and who we can be. The only one who can promise us the good life will not be found at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If we believe that is our ultimate hope, then the bad news will continue to be the headlines.