One definition of a priest is a person in the Good News business. Another definition of a priest is someone in the Bad News business. I have been doing this work since 1984, and in preparation some seven years prior to that. Even during a decade long hiatus from ministry I was still "the priest" to those with whom I worked. (something ontological going on, but I digress)
I have reached a point where decades separate me from many of the folks with whom I have worked. The babies have had babies, the pretty young moms are now grandma's and the manly men are sometimes gray and stooped. People do not look like my memories of them at all.
In the last few years I have gotten calls from people in that distant past. People who are suffering, or sick or dying; crying out for help. People calling with "bad news." Sometimes it is for a caring ear. Sometimes to connect me with a corpse, literally. Often it is because they don't know who else to call. It is amazing the ties that bind. [It is a reminder that we can make an indelible impression in a short time which lasts a lifetime. Lots of people remember you and think about you. Let that govern how you interact today!]
Bad News... They often say those very words. "Hey, Father, remember me? I have bad news..." Often times, there is an apology. "I think of you often, I should have called before... I don't know why I always wait for something bad to happen before I call."
So what to say in response? I know that the sufferings of the present are nothing compared to the glory to be revealed (good news: It is SO WORTH IT, whatever it is) I know that the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from he dead dwells in you...He will give life to your mortal bodies as well. (good news: the horror is temporary. It is so worth it, hang in---better days, the best days, are coming!)
Bad news...Good news.
Life trumps death
Glory overwhelms the wounds and scars (even from a cross) with light and beauty.
I got good news for your bad news, bad is temporary, good is eternal. Bad is redeemable. Bad is potentially reworkable, transformed into good. I know you can't see it now, perhaps, but that doesn't make it less real or true. Perhaps being saved by faith means that once you believe good news the teeth and fangs of bad news are less vicious (or your body less aware of the pain). Good News---words of hope and life and joy---can distract us from the Bad News.
And when you are in the Good News business, people impacted by the bad news turn to you. They call. even if it has been, twenty, thirty years. They call because they want good news. They want it because they were created for it, it is their truest, deepest nature.
SO trust your deepest hopes. It is true: Good News.