What is the Gospel?

As a cradled Catholic, I grew up taking my faith for granted and knowing the Gospel only as the four books of the Bible containing the life and the teachings of Jesus.

But years ago, when I dove deeper into my faith because of things that happened in my life, and with the help of Catholic and non-Catholic friends and mentors, I learned more about what the Gospel truly is.

At its heart, the Gospel (or the Good News) is that God loves us.

The Gospel is as simple as that.

But if the Gospel is that simple, why didn’t the Pharisees and the people know it or understand it? Why did they have to crucify Jesus for proclaiming the Gospel, this simple truth?

Let’s go back to the very beginning.

Why did God create man?

As an expecting father, I am so excited for our little angel because I want to love him or her. That’s it. I simply want to share my love with our baby. For many married couples like us, we want to have babies simply because we want to love them. Our love is overflowing that we want our babies to experience and share in our love, even without expecting anything in return from them.

I believe God is the same, only that His love is greater. After all, He is our Father. God created us simply to love us. For us to experience the love that He has to offer. And His love is incomparable to human love. After all, as Saint John wrote, God Himself is Love.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) echoes this, in its very first paragraph nonetheless:

God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. — Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 1 (CCC 1)

According to the CCC, God created us in order for us to share in His blessedness, His goodness, His love. And as many Bible scholars believe, from the moment of our creation, God wants us to share in His love for eternity.

Out of the ground the LORD God made grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. — Genesis 2:9 

Now, why did God create the tree of life and placed it in the middle of the garden of Eden if He did not want man to eat of it? God wants us to share not only in His blessedness, but also in His eternal life.

The consequences of sin

In the beginning, man knew God as a Father. Man had a wonderful relationship with God. However, we lost this relationship with Him because of sin.

After Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and disobeyed God, the first consequence of their sin was having a distorted image of God.

When they heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. The LORD God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you? He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.” — Genesis 3:8-10

After the Fall of man (or the first sin of man), man became afraid of God. We lost our once harmonious and filial relationship with Him, not because God ceased to be a Father to us, but because our sins clouded our hearts and distorted the way we see God. We see God as a punisher who would punish us because of our sins.

In addition, because of sin, the toil and pain in childbearing were intensified (Genesis 3:16), the relationship between man and woman also lost (Genesis 3:16), man would toil the land for food (Genesis 3:17), and, of course, death entered the world (Genesis 3:19). 

The story could have ended there. God could have given up on man, on us. And yet…

God continues to love us

Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, God was working on His plan on how to draw man back to Him. 

From the Holy Couple of Adam and Eve, to the Holy Family of Noah, to the Patriarchs, to the Holy Nation of Israel which God appointed as His firstborn who will show other nations the way back to God, to the Davidic Kingdom, to the Israelites’ exile and return, to the time of the Prophets, and to the Maccabean Revolt, God was revealing His plan to bring us back to eternal life and blessedness with Him.

Continuing with the first paragraph of the CCC:

For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. — CCC 1

The Gospel fully revealed

However, despite God’s continuous love for man and His intevention, man, like the Pharisees and many of the Jews at the time of Jesus, still failed to recognize God as a loving Father. 

While man followed the Law of God given to Moses, they failed to realize that the real essence of the Law and of God is love.

So, at the time of fulfillment, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to fully reveal the Gospel to us and His plan to save us from the consequences of our sins. 

When Jesus Christ came, He reintroduced God to man as his Father. He restored the distorted image we had of God and our filial relationship with Him. 

He also saved us from the other consequences of sin such as the broken relationship between man and woman (Jesus valued and talked with women at a time when they were considered of lower status than man) and death (by showing us the way to eternal life with the Father).

Finishing the first paragraph of the CCC:

To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life. — CCC 1

Jesus once again calls us back to the Father as His children. To once again share in His blessedness, in His love, and in His eternal life. 

Simply because God loves us, which is the Gospel.

This is the time of fulfillment

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us that now is the time of fulfillment:

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” — Mark 1:14-15

Today, many people still do not know who God truly is — a Father who loves us. They still do not know that they are loved because they do not know the Gospel.

Now is the time of fulfillment. Now is the time for us to take part in the mission of Christ and share the Gospel to others, especially to those who are losing hope, to those who are suffering, and to those who are desperate for God’s love.

God is calling us not just to love Him, but also to love our neighbors. God is calling us not just to believe in the Gospel, but also to share this Gospel to others.

As the Catholic Church believes: 

[God] calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. — CCC 1

Because we are all God’s children, we all belong to one family, God’s family. God is calling us to be Jesus to our neighbors, our brothers and sisters in this world.

Like Jesus, let us proclaim the Gospel to God’s family through our words and our lives. For Jesus did not just preach the Gospel, He lived the Gospel by loving others.