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Fr Billy Swan

Dear friends. The first sentence of the Gospel today is the opening line from the Gospel of Mark: ‘The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ the Son of God’. The Gospel of Mark was written in Rome at a time when the emperor’s powers were at their height. In fact, he was so powerful and revered that people began to refer to him as a god or as the son of god. When the Roman army was victorious in a battle, the victory was announced like this: ‘the good news about Caesar Augustus (or whatever was the emperor’s name), the son of god’. Therefore, when Mark begins his Gospel by announcing that Jesus Christ is the true emperor, that he is the Son of God, he is doing nothing less than announcing a revolution. Christ has replaced the emperor as the first point of reference for all who believe in him. For Mark this was the good news to be proclaimed for all the world to hear. Here, I would like to reflect on how the Gospel is good news for us this Advent and how it is a victory for us over everything that is dark, sinful and that steals our joy.

First, in order to hear the good news we must know the bad news: that you and I and our world are in need of saving: that we need someone to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. The good news is that we have a saviour in Christ who comes to us at Christmas if we are open to welcome him.

The Gospel is good news for all who lack meaning and hope in their lives. It is a victory over meaninglessness and despair.

The Gospel is good news for all who need forgiveness and ask for it. It is a victory over the slavery of guilt.

The Gospel is good news for the poor. God sent his Son into the world as one of the poor so that all in any need would find hope in him. What we give in charity is good news for those who will benefit from that charity.

The Gospel is good news for the bereaved for it tells us that all who have died in God are alive in him which gives us victory over death.

The Gospel is good news for anyone who doubts that they are loved. The story of Christmas teaches us that God’s love and friendship is offered to all. It gives us victory over the burden of thinking we don’t matter.

The Gospel is good news for the sick for it tells them that you do not suffer in vain or alone. Sharing in the cross of Jesus will lead, in time, to transformation and joy.

The Gospel is good news for those who have become addicted, who have lost their way or turned away from God. It is a victory over the futility of trying to replace God with anything else other than him.

The Gospel is good news for those in the family of the Church: that the one who believes is never alone which is a victory over isolation and loneliness.

Finally, the Gospel is good news for our world. The crib and the spirit of Christmas give us a glimpse of the peace for which Christ came and which the world so badly needs.

This is the Good News and this is the victory. It is Christ’s victory and he shares it with us. God is at work in our world, making new heavens and a new earth as he promises in the second reading. With the first sentence of his Gospel, St Mark announced the beginning of the greatest revolution in history. It is still going on. Hear it, see it and wrap your life around it. Prepare a way for the Lord.


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