“Pretty Good News”
Many years ago, in the olden days when I was young (as one of my children once put it), we had a new young assistant pastor in our parish. He blew into town and began immediately making changes in the parish – cleaning out closets, tossing stuff for which he didn’t see an immediate need, organizing new people to participate in ministries, etc. It was not an easy time for those of us who had been ministering in the parish for many years and had just happened to be out of town for a couple of weeks when he arrived and found no one filling our places in the community. Some toes got crunched. Some feelings got hurt. Some people moved into new ministry in other communities. And some people got newly involved in service within the community who might never have stepped up to serve if he hadn’t asked them! As they say, with every cloud, there’s a silver lining.
I thought of this today as I reflected on this week’s readings from the First Letter of St. John that have appeared in the daily Mass liturgies. Their themes have been those of light shining in darkness, of love overcoming all else, and of living in the light, letting God’s light and love shine forth into our world through our love of those around us.
One day in that long ago time, I received a note in the mail from Fr. New Young Priest. I had done something for which he was sending a “Thank you” note. (I’ve no idea today what it was.) Those were the days when it was a new, exciting idea to cut a picture from a magazine and make your own notes and cards. He had cut a picture of a young woman from a magazine and glued it to a half sheet of blue paper. He wrote a quote from John’s Gospel beside it. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1:5) It was a very simple note, but striking in its simplicity and power. On the back of the note, he wrote, “Pretty good news, huh!” and a simple thanks, with his signature.
The note really touched me. It was so lovely that I covered it with clear contact paper and taped it to the wall in my room. When I left home after college, I took it with me. Once in a while, I still find it in my attic, in a box of well loved treasures from my childhood and youth, and it always brings a smile.
He was right. And St. John was right. That the light cannot be overcome by even the greatest darkness is indeed “pretty good news.”