A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Bad News Travels Fast

By Fr Kevin
Bates sm

It would be a rare dining room table, restaurant, bar or office which didn’t feature reflective conversations regarding terror events as they happen around the world. Whether it be a random shooting by an unbalanced co-worker or a ‘bullied’ student, or a carefully planned attack on a concert or a mosque or church.

The fear generated by these events is both personal and global. Somehow we all respond to it in some fashion. We try to understand the reasons behind these events and the characters of the perpetrators. Our hearts beat with compassion and sadness as we consider the suffering of those most impacted by these terrible tragedies. 

Such bad news does indeed travel fast and leaves no one free from its reach.

It seems that good news generally doesn’t travel quite as fast. Really exciting top-class good news may hit the headlines quickly enough, but it’s nearly always the bad news that takes centre stage. 

Our front pages, our TV, Radio and Online headlines, and the headlines inside our own heads are often the places where bad news resides. 

The media in general love looking for the points of conflict and signs of human weakness or evil. Broken marriages, contracts or economies are constantly put before us for our consideration. Failed politicians, clergy, business-executives and the daily round of shootings, stabbings and robberies claim first places, and are up-staged only when large-scale disasters, terrors and scandals come along. 

Reporters milk each story as they pursue grieving, angry or guilty parties before or after court hearings, asking them inane questions which they know full well will never be answered! 

All this can cause us to lose heart and fear for the future of our world and our families. In this climate, the despair of many people, who are themselves wrestling with their own demons, is very understandable. 

But we don’t have to look far to experience human kindness, sometimes overwhelming generosity of spirit and grace in so many different forms. Somewhere near is someone with a healing touch. Nearby is someone whose forgiving heart has the power to resolve conflict and even long-established division. 

If we’re alert, quite possibly we will meet with a gentle spirit who is ready to listen to us ever so patiently, as we seek to unburden ourselves. In a world of spin, deceit and outright lies, there are also those for whom truth is their shining light. 

From the depths of our Biblical Tradition we know that in God’s first look at us, God sees that we are good. Jesus in due course brings this wonderful look of God out into the light in human form. 

As members of his Body, we receive this look of love and knowing how loved we are, we cannot help looking at the world around us with this same divine gaze. It’s then that we can truly get real and respond to our suffering world with compassion and love rather than the sort of despairing judgements with which we are often left. 

It’s this look of love that prompts the defiant hope displayed when ordinary citizens rally in opposition to terror and refuse to bend to threats and violence.There is a belief expressed that there is more to us than the evil inflicted on us and that we are capable of goodness, greatness and even holiness!

The Good News of Jesus may not always travel as fast as the bad news. However its sustaining, hope-filled nourishment is designed to last longer, enter more deeply and energise us in ways far beyond the reach of the evil that visits our world so often. 

This Good News is not the possession of a few people sharing one or other faith. It can find expression in any heart of any persuasion open enough to look at the world with that primal loving look of God. Let’s continue to make that look our own.   

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