Monday, October 13, 2014

THE GOOD NEWS

                                                                 The Good News
And what did the writers say about what Jesus had to say? Well, it started being written down years after Jesus had died, and years after the message of this Jesus had been passed down through the preaching and liturgy (especially through a memorial meal celebrated by the surviving disciples of Jesus apparently in the tradition of Jewish memorial meals and prayers) and in the developing understanding of who Jesus really is and what his followers were meant to believe. The earliest written documents of which we have copies are some early letters of the Apostle Paul and a document of the evangelist Mark. Paul wrote letters to early Christian communities around the Meditteranean; among which were letters to the Christians in Corinth, Thessalonika, Ephesus, Phillippi, Galatia and Colossus. The earliest of the four Gospels is widely held to be that attributed to an author named Mark, written in Rome from between 65 and 75 AD. In these works, we find some of the earliest sources describing what might be called the "good news" of Jesus. That these words constitute the original words of Jesus might be subject to dispute, but there can be little doubt that with the passage of time the original message of Jesus became theologized and ecclesiasticized to help formulate what was later to be termed Doctrine, Dogma and Christology and Ecclesiology.

The Gospel of Mark is called "gospel" in English as a translation of the Greek word "Euaggelion" which means "good message" and comes from the word for angel, (Messenger). It also can be translated as "good news", which seems to be in contrast to other "not so good" news which we get frequently. The very first words the author of the first gospel puts onto the lips of Jesus which might be termed his "keynote speech" sums up what he wants us to know:
             "The present moment is the right time, Metanoiete (change the way you think and believe    
             about reality) for the Kingdom of God is within you. Believe this 'good news'" [Mk. 1:16].
From the beginning of time, man has been searching for an all-powerful deity to whom man might go for protection and saving in times of trial. Man has been searching for such a god in the world outside of man, and now comes a man who proclaims that this father ("Abba") is within, closer to each and every one of us than we are to ourselves. Who can possibly believe such a teaching. Only those to whom this Jesus is no liar. Granted it is impossible to see this Kingdom within, nor feel it, nor imagine it nor think it. Jesus,however, does not ask us to understand this, but to believe it. There is the central truth.

Throughout the entirety of Mark's Gospel, we read of the difficulty that the disciples of Jesus have in wrestling with this belief.
          "The people who heard him were amazed at the way he taught, for he wasn't like the
           teachers of the Law, instead he taught with authority."[Mk. 1:22]
           
         "Then Jesus went home.  Again such a large crowd gathered that Jesus and his disciples had
          no time to eat. When his family heard about it, they set out to take charge of him, because
          people were saying, "He's gone mad!" [Mk. 3:20-21]

          "When Jesus was home alone, some of those who had heard him came to him with the twelve
          disciples and asked him to explain the parables.
         "You have been given the secret of  the Kingdom of God." Jesus answered, "but the others ,
          who are on the outside, hear all things by means of parables so that 
                 'They may look and look, yet not see;
                 they may listen and listen, yet not understand.
                 For if they did, they would turn to God,
                 and he would forgive them.'" 

           "Jesus left that place and went back to his home town, followed by his disciples. On the

           Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue. Many people were there, and when they heard
            him, they were all amazed. "Where did he get all this?" they asked "What wisdom is this that
            has been given him? How does he perform miracles? Isn't he the carpenter, the son of
           Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters living here?"
           And so they rejected him.
           Jesus said to them, "\'A prophet is respected everywhere except in his own home town and
           by his relatives and his family.'" [Mark 6:1-4]

           "Some Pharisees came to Jesus and started to argue with him. They wanted to trap him, so

           they asked him to perform a miracle (sign) to show that God approved of him. But Jesus
           gave a deep groan and said 'Why do the people of this day ask for a miracle (sign)? No, I tell
           you! No such proof will be given to these people.'" [Mark 8:11-13]

In other early Christian writings, the importance of proclaiming that the Kingdom of God was within became clear as Paul says when he writes to the Corinthians:
             "Put yourselves to the test and judge yourselves, to find out whether you are living in 
               faith. Surely you know that Christ Jesus is in you?- unless you have completely failed." 
                                                                                                                                                      [2Corinthians 13:5]
Again, Paul reiterates that the "good news" which he had received was as Mark would write:
             "It is the task of fully proclaiming (God's) news, which is the secret he hid through all 
               past ages from all mankind but has now revealed to his people. God's plan is to make
               known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples.
               And the secret is that Christ is in you."  [Col. 1:26-27]
From early on, however, this "secret" that the kingdom of God is within us" became "foolishness to the Greeks and scandal to the Jews":
             "For God in His wisdom made it impossible for people to know Him by means of their own
                wisdom. Instead, by means of the so-called"foolish" message that we preach, God decided
                to save those who believe. Jews seek miracles (signs) for proof, and Greeks look for
                wisdom. As for us, we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the
                Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles, but for those whom God has called, both Jews and
                Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For what
                seems to be God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God's
                weakness is stronger than human strength. [1 Corinthians 1:21-25]
In the Boston globe of 10/12/14 in the Books Section, Dan Cryer gives a synopsis of Edward O. Wilson's work, "The Meaning of Human Existence". Cryer indicates that Wilson's thought relegates Science to be the "King" of  total knowledge , rather than of cosmic knowledge, i.e., of spatial and temporal reality. Any doctrine of Creation he apparently considers to be "fact aversive" and "outmoded". We were created by "chance" and "necessity".  Humanity is an "accident of evolution", a "product of random mutation and natural selection". He claims no "evidence" of any Creator, as if a Creator of space and time, matter and energy, would need a tangible body which had we been there, could have proved His existence "ex-video", out of our seeing God. 

So I have before me two witnesses, one Edwin O. Wilson telling me "There is no God, no life after death, just matter and energy which in time "falls apart"; and the other, a man whom even his followers found it difficult to believe, who told us that God does exist and that His realm (or whatever you choose to call it) is WITHIN us. It is that No-Thing from which all things came from a "point of no dimensions" 13.7 billion years ago when time and space began. What exactly is the Cosmos, but the ex-pression of God Himself in space and time,
including the entire humanity and all of creation up to and including Jesus himself, whole and entire. 

Just as Jesus could give no spatial, temporal sign which would prove his "good news" to his doubting hearers, Edward O. can give no proof that God is only a mythical fiction. I stand at the stove once again asking myself, whom do I trust? I know my answer, I believe my witness. 
                                                                                                                                                            Charlie Mc