If you watch the news, read the paper or peruse the online blogs, you might get the idea that there is nothing very good going on in the world. Bad news and pessimism seem to be everywhere. If it is not the economy, then it is crime, global warming, health-care or a myriad of other issues that many believe point to the decline of civilization. I guess this is nothing really new, but the rapid manner of disseminating such bad news has multiplied its impact.
If you ask people how things are going, odds are you will hear a litany of depressing observations. There was a popular saying a while back. "There are two kinds of people: those who see the glass half-empty, and those who see it half-full." It seems that now there are more people who see the glass as cracked and leaking like a sieve! Perhaps the Lord was afraid of this same reaction when the two disciples of John came to see Him. Rather than take a chance that they would report to John what was not working, in today's Gospel we hear Him instruct them “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them." It is as if He wanted to make sure they saw the good things that were happening.
Maybe we need to stop once in a while and look at the good things that are happening around us as well. It always amazes me when I watch the number of gifts that pour into our parish at this time of year for the "Giving Tree". Hundreds of people respond to this request to assist those in need provide Christmas gifts for their loved ones, and this is just in one parish! How many other wonderful things are happening, and not just at Christmas time, but all through the year? Of course you will not usually hear about them in the media. It is much easier (and profitable) to report the bad news. I believe this is the work of the devil, since he does not want people to realize that God is with us (which by the way, is the title given to Jesus: Emmanuel).
I must confess, I fall into the same trap at times when I am with friends or acquaintances. Too often I find myself going along with the conversations that focus on what is wrong with people, situations, the world. As a believer who is supposed to imitate Christ, I know that this is not what I should be doing. I need to refocus my efforts to follow His example. If there is to be a change in the world's view, I have to change my own view of the world.
I need to remind myself each day to focus on what is right, rather than what is wrong. When others around me complain about things, I need to see how God can work with the situation. There are plenty of people who will try and convince us that God is not part of our lives. It is up to each of us to remind others that God is present - all we have to do is look for Him... and expect to see Him.