An Encouraging Word – ‘Good news of great joy’

Fr. Ron Knott.RGBa.2012

By Father J. Ronald Knott

Do not be afraid. I proclaim to you good news of great joy for all the people. Luke 2:1-14

I think it is worth noting that the first words from heaven after Jesus was born were these, “Do not be afraid!”
“Do not be afraid because I have good news of great joy for all the people!” What was that “good news of great joy for all the people?” It is simply this: You have nothing to be afraid of. God loves you, all of you, without condition, no ands, ifs or buts about it. 
That is, in truth, the point of all the fuss over Christmas. If you don’t “get” that, then you have seriously missed the boat and you might as well take down the decorations and forget it.
But if you do “get” that — that you have nothing to fear because God loves you, all of you, without condition, no ands, ifs or buts about it, — then, no matter what you’ve been through this past year, the year before or even next year, you have something serious to celebrate.
If you “get” the message of Christmas, then no matter what you’ve been through this past year, the year before that or next year, you will know that, when all is said and done, everything is going to turn out OK in the end. 
That’s the “good news of great joy” that God’s messenger delivered that first Christmas. That’s the “good news of great joy” that this messenger wants to deliver to you in this Christmas column.
What distresses me most about our beloved church these days is that so many of God’s messengers seem hell-bent on announcing “bad news,” instead of “good news.”
Some are telling us, in so many words and in shriller and shriller voices, to “be afraid” because the world is falling apart, that it’s all up to us to save it and God’s Christmas message is too naïve to be trusted today. To them the message of Christmas is an absurd one. Prudent, careful, cautious, cynical and unbelieving people have never accepted it.
In reality, there is no room for discouragement because the end has already been decided. Such a conviction does not make things easier. The battle between good and evil will rage on, and we will feel its effects, but “the good news of great joy” is that we know how it ends. It’s not up for grabs. It has already been decided. Good trumps evil. 
Faith is not a cheap tranquilizer that eliminates the need for suffering. All it does — and this of course is critical — is enable us to keep going. 
Those who do not believe the “good news of great joy” do not have a fundamental conviction that love will triumph over all our discouragement, frustration, defeat, disappointment and sin. Christmas, on the contrary, reminds us that it will all be OK in the end. Why? Because I said so? No, because God said so.
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