Good News for a Change

St. Mark the Evangelist is often depicted as a lion

Relaxing the mind and soothing the soul?

I have heard some say that they have decided to stop watching the news.This is because it is filled with so much negativity.The popular media is often bent towards the scandalous. Some say that a caring person can end up depressed by turning on the television at 6 pm. Then the rest of the programming lineup is filled with pseudo-documentary shows about murderers, drug dealers, gangsters, cheating spouses, aloof big foots, theories about alien invasions, and the end of the world. I noticed a new recent series features biographies of children who kill.  Changing the channel finds another program about bug infestations. I can’t say that this is stuff to relax the mind and soothe the soul.

Not only the news, but TV is often laced with commercials that show violence and destruction. One example is to think of the not so subtle types of ads and movie promotions that appear during major sports events. While designed to be funny and entertaining, one after another things being blown up and people in situations that compromise their morality flash on the screen. Everything is in a fast manic pace. And we are supposed to laugh?

Effects of television violence

“The effect of media violence on behavior has become a significant policy and public health issue,” according to a 2008 study by psychologists Feshbach and Tangney of George Mason University. The American Psychological Association (APA) asserts that media violence affects children in three major ways:  (1) they become desensitized to the pain and suffering of others; (2) they become more fearful of their environment; and (3) more likely to become hurtful and aggressive (Tompkins, A, 2002 Dec 14, “The Psychological Effects of Violent Media on Children,” AllPsych Journal.). Violence also has an impact on families and adults. In fact, the issue is a very old one and according to a 1999 statement by Jeffrey  McIntyre of the APA, “To argue against it is like arguing against gravity.”

 Must we face it?

Some might say, this is life, suck it up and deal with it. A fact of life is bearing one’s Crosses and facing challenges. However as a journalist, I know there is a lot to be said about how one chooses to present material.  Also we have control over whether or not to watch. It is also interesting to compare news and history as it is given from a faith perspective versus a secular one.

It is always a breath of fresh air to find something positive.

We can look at the tradition of the Saints and find many tragic histories; however each contains an uplifting message about the power of God and the joy of following His will.  When we turn to Sacred Scripture the underlying message is also positive.  Although the Bible, and in particular the Old Testament most definitely has scandal and destruction, the whole message points towards redemption.  In the New Testament, most definitely there is nothing flowery or cute about a young man being scourged and nailed to a cross.  However, the word, “Gospel” actually means “good tidings” and the “Good News” that God sends to the world through His Son, Jesus Christ.

An author of the Good News for today.

Long before there were computers, televisions, video games, and even the printing press, people had to go by word of mouth to learn of events.  There were few writers and their handwritten documents were kept in places of worship.  Authors, inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote down the life and ministry of Jesus Christ so that the “Good News” would be available to future generations.  St. Mark, the Evangelist, one of the authors, is traditionally ascribed to be the writer of the second Gospel.  April 25 is observed as the feast day of St. Mark in the Church. 

As a young man, St. Mark witnessed the lives of the earliest Christians of Jerusalem. He was close to the Blessed Virgin and the Apostles. He went on missionary journeys with his cousin, St. Barnabas and with St. Paul.  On the basis of St. Peter’s accounts, St. Mark as a secretary and interpreter to the first Pope, wrote down Jesus’ life and ministry.  St. Mark is also attributed to having founded the Church in Alexandria.  St. Mark is the patron of the city of Venice where his relics are believed to be at the basilica of St. Mark.

The Gospel of Mark is known to be the oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels.  Its emphasis is on a scandal:  “The crucified Messiah”.  Yet this scandal brings us to the Good News with Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension.

The New Evangelization

The Gospel according to St. Mark ends with the great commission of Jesus:  “Go into the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15).  The late Blessed John Paul II used the term “New Evangelization” in his encyclicals, speeches, and writings to address the need for Catholics and other Christians to relaunch evangelization in the face of the Modern World.

Pope Benedict XVI as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger on the New Evangelization wrote:

“To evangelize means: to show this path—to teach the art of living. At the beginning of his public life Jesus says: I have come to evangelize the poor (Luke 4:18); this means: I have the response to your fundamental question; I will show you the path of life, the path toward happiness—rather: I am that path.

The deepest poverty is the inability of joy, the tediousness of a life considered absurd and contradictory. This poverty is widespread today, in very different forms in the materially rich as well as the poor countries. The inability of joy presupposes and produces the inability to love, produces jealousy, avarice—all defects that devastate the life of individuals and of the world.

This is why we are in need of a new evangelization—if the art of living remains an unknown, nothing else works. But this art is not the object of a science—this art can only be communicated by [one] who has life—He who is the Gospel personified.”

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