Sunday the Twenty-first

“Go out to all the world and tell the Good News (εὐαγγέλιον, [euaggelion]) Mark 16:15.”
     Many who have heard the word Gospel instinctively hold that it means ‘good news.’ Such a translation is quite accurate in terms of the rendering Gospel into English. The difficulty arises when a follow-up question is posed, ‘what constitutes Good News?’ There are many situations in life when a word, a call, a note convey good news as a resolution and relief to a troubling life event and often an event that is life threatening. But does εὐαγγέλιον have a more specific meaning when used in Sacred Scripture?
     In the days of the Old Testament and in the days of Alexander the Great’s (+323 BC) conquest of the world, εὐαγγέλιον appears to have had a somewhat restricted use in its meaning and use, anchored in the world of military victory. When a messenger brought an εὐαγγέλιον to a particular town or village, people knew that news of victory was about to be announced. Even if people did not know that a war had been fought, an εὐαγγέλιον indicated that not only was a war fought, we are numbered among the victors.
     Saint Paul made ample use of this cultural knowledge in his proclamation of Jesus Christ, the crucified Lord risen to new life, the Victor over sin and death. As far as Saint Paul was concerned in the time of his ministry, Jesus battled the war against sin and death and was, is and will be forever victorious.
     When Texts emerge in the latter part of the first century bearing the appellations Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, the written εὐαγγέλιον probes questions of Christology (Who is Jesus?) and Discipleship (How do I and we follow Jesus?) under the umbrella of Jesus’ victorious work over sin and death.
     The gift of the written εὐαγγέλιον - all four of them - is a treasured grace for daily living. Knowing Jesus as Victor is the blessing of confidence in the face of life’s uncertainties.

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