My Dear Sisters and Brothers! Could you sense any good news given to Nancy at any stage of her life? I don’t. From her childhood to her premature death she was entangled in the spiral of evil. Her tragic life and death are however a diagnosis of what is happening in our society where people anoint themselves as messiahs, saviors of the world. It is a recurring drama from the Book of Genesis when Satan said to the first people: ‘You will be like god.’ In the first centuries of Christianity when our brothers and sisters in faith were committing themselves to the Lord Jesus, when they strived to live according to the Gospel, they were surrounded by images and statues of various gods and goddesses. They had to navigate in the society where there were hundreds and thousands of gods. We don’t see statues of pagan gods at every street or intersection. However we are surrounded by people who have usurped the role of God. They don’t expect us to burn incense in front of them or to light candles in their honour but they do expect that we welcome their new dogmas about the society, life and death, about the nature of human being, with obedience which can be compared to a religious obedience to God. In this situation we hear from Jesus news which is good. It is Good News for our temporal life and for our eternal life: ‘The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.’ That’s spirit, that anointing to be the Saviour of the world, has been given to Jesus Christ as our Blessed Lord announced: ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ Good News is not a theory or some clever advice. Good News is Jesus Christ himself.
Two thousand years ago he came to the synagogue in Nazareth to offer people the life which flows from God. This Sunday we listen to the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. Until December the Sunday Gospel readings will be primary from Luke. Among some of the most loved passages there is the parable we call the parable of the prodigal son. However when you reflect on the parable deeply the question appears: ‘Who was more prodigal? The son who wasted lots of money or the father who didn’t hesitate to ‘waste’ his love?
St Luke dedicated the Gospel to Theophilus which translates as ‘friend of God.’ That’s how I call you who are gathered here in this church: Friends of God. You may think that it is only a nice phrase I use. It is not just a phrase but an invitation to grow in your conviction that you are a friend of God. Take this opportunity as you listen to the Gospel of Luke this year to allow the Good News, to allow Jesus to convince you that you are a friend of God. I encourage you to take the parish bulletin home every week and to read prayerfully the Gospel reading as your daily prayer. Let is sink deeply into your soul.
One of the reasons I love coming to your outback parish is that here, in the middle of the desert, the words of my favourite Psalm 62 come so alive: ‘O God, you are my God, for you I long, for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water.’ This longing can be only satisfied by God like the longing of that person I spoke at the beginning. Nancy needed Good News; she needed love of Christ to heal her not to become Nathan. This is our mission, to help people to discover that they are friends of God, that they are his sons and daughters, that when it comes to loving - God, whom Jesus Christ has revealed, is truly prodigal. By praying and meditating the Sunday Gospels you will be soaked with the Spirit like the earth gets soaked when a good rain comes.