Some Clear Ideas about God’s Kingdom

Christ & Pilate

Let’s see who can identify the participants in the following exchange.

“Then you are a king?”

“You say I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”

Who asked, ‘Then you are a king?’ Right. Pontius Pilate.

And Who came into the world to bear witness to the truth? Correct. The King.

When did this conversation take place? Correct. Good Friday. Right before the scourging and crucifixion.

At last Sunday’s Mass, at the beginning of the gospel, we read: “Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.” He determined to journey to Jerusalem in order to offer Himself for us on the cross. He determined to journey to Jerusalem to reveal His Kingship—on the cross. He had explained it earlier: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all mankind to Myself.” Christ crucified reigns over the universe as the divine King.

xt-king

At this Sunday’s Mass, we read: Lord Jesus commands us to declare to the world, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”

We might feel embarrassed to do this. To declare the coming of God’s Kingdom, in the Person of Jesus Christ our Lord. To declare that He gathers His people around His holy altar. That His kingdom comes through the divine love that He communicates to the human race through the Mass and all the sacraments. We might hesitate to number ourselves among Jesus’ missionaries.

Maybe that’s because we don’t have a clear idea what the phrase “Kingdom of God” means? To be sure, the Kingdom of God transcends all human understanding. We put our faith in the divine mystery of the Kingdom, and we pray every day that it will come. At the same time, we have some crystal-clear ideas about the kingdom, too.

1. The Kingdom of God belongs to the poor in spirit. To the little ones. To childlike, pure hearts.

God had consecrated His people Israel through His ancient alliance with them, liberating them from slavery in Egypt. He Himself reigned over them. Then they asked for a human king. The prophet Samuel gave them King David.

David had great military successes, but he did not reign over God’s people by killing Goliath or conquering the city of Jerusalem. David still had to hear the prophet Nathan accusing him of his grievous sins. King David only reigned in peace after he acknowledged his sins with a contrite heart.

Which brings us to clear idea #2 about the Kingdom of God:

2. It belongs to repentant sinners. It is not a reign of self-satisfied pride, but of humble trust in God’s mercy.

confessionalLord Jesus, when He walked the earth, worked signs to demonstrate the coming of the Kingdom of God. These signs included dramatic exorcisms. Jesus freed some poor souls from the power of Satan.

Now, what is Satan’s most distinctive quality? Isn’t it his mercilessness? Satan has no pity. Seminarian Jack Shanahan gave us a talk last weekend about the Pro-Life Movement. One thought that ran through my mind as Jack spoke: The Satanic mercilessness of abortion. It leaves behind not only death, but also crushing despair and desperate interior emptiness.

The Kingdom of God involves the opposite. Restoration for the sinner. The tender friendship of heaven. A fresh start.

Which brings us to clear idea #3, which itself has a Part One and a Part Two.

3. The Kingdom of God comes through the grace of Holy Baptism.

The human race, made in God’s image and likeness, has enormous grandeur. Yet, left to ourselves, we have no divine kingdom, but rather a kingdom of dust. A kingdom of blind folly, with huge dumps full of obsolete cell phones with dead batteries. Ultimately, unredeemed man inherits only the kingdom of death.

God has redeemed us from death through His cross. We share in that grace through Holy Baptism.

And Holy Baptism has a Part Two. “Second Baptism,” which we can receive again and again. The Kingdom of God stands open to those who enter… which door? It’s a humble little door, with a window because of child-protection policies, but which opens into a chamber with the greatest confidential secrecy available on earth.

Christ gave St. Peter the keys to the Kingdom of God. Any priest has the power to turn the key, and unlock the pearly gate. All it takes is: a humble confession, a promise to do the imposed penance, and an act of contrition.

Maybe, when we get right down to it, we find ourselves embarrassed to declare the coming of God’s Kingdom because: We ourselves still need to go to confession? Still need to sort everything out in our own consciences, come clean, and commit to a scrupulous observance of all ten of the commandments?

Ok. No problem. That’s the work we’re here to do together. The whole point of the Church: to try to get ourselves straightened out. So that we can find the true joy and interior peace that bait the hook, when we go out into the world, fishing for souls.

The Kingdom of God is at hand. One thing that sentence certainly means: The busier Father gets in the confessional, the more truly evangelical and welcoming our parishes become.

One thought on “Some Clear Ideas about God’s Kingdom

  1. Random thoughts after reading this three times, coffee cup in hand:
    The picture of Pilate and Jesus – struck me as realistic.
    Even God’s chosen, King David, sinned, paid the price for that sin but repented and went on with life.
    Satan’s “mercilessness” is sometimes shown in even lesser matters than abortion…Satan knows the vulnerable spots in all.
    Go to Mass.

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