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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories Building the Reign of God: Loving Beyond Borders

Human history in the last two to three hundred years has seen an increasing sense that we live in a very large world. What happens in one part of the world has impact on the rest of us. We humans are truly a global community or family. Pope Francis, when addressing the challenge of climate change in his encyclical letter, Laudato si invites us to see our world as our “common home”. In this home, we share much of a common story/history. It is no surprise that this story has its triumphs and its tragedies.

To speak of the mission of Jesus is to speak of the reign of God. Jesus proclaimed, both in word and in action, that the reign of God had come near and was in fact present. It did so in his own person and it continues to come near is with us as we share in the Spirit of the risen Jesus, here and now. Jesus is present and active through the Spirit-filled people he has made his own. By our very baptism, we are released into our world as the presence of Jesus among all humanity.

So what? All through the Gospels we hear of Jesus on his mission. Sometimes it is found in the words he speaks: You must love the Lord your God with all your heart,... and your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27). But his mission is more than words. It is actions. So throughout the Gospels we hear of the reconciling, healing actions of Jesus as he reaches out to the wounded, the broken and the hurting. What is striking about this reaching out is that it is often to those who are outside our community, the outcasts and the foreigners. The mission of Jesus takes God’s reign beyond borders.

What is true of Jesus is true of us who are bearers of the Spirit of Jesus. Our mission is to take God’s reign beyond borders, to all the peoples of the earth. The Gospels present us with a double commandment - love God and love your neighbour. Jesus was asked: Who is my neighbour? In response he told of the Good Samaritan (Lk.10:25-37). Loving care knows no barriers or boundaries. Our mission, like Jesus, is to bring healing, reconciliation, liberation beyond borders to all the peoples of the earth.

There are many ways to build the reign of God. Sometimes we focus on the world closest to us, our family, our neighbourhood. They are the object of our love and care. But the mission calls us further, to loving and caring beyond borders. We share a common humanity with all the peoples of the earth. Our mission is to all of them and it is expressed in our loving care and concern, our solidarity with the needs and aspirations beyond our own parish, neighbourhood and nation. We are called beyond borders.

Fundamentally, this mission is a call to change our world. Change is a curious thing. Much as we might sometimes long for it, often we fear it and even resist it. Basic change in our lives and our world is threatening. Such change involves us in risk and disruption in our lives. It also is a journey into what may be very much unknown territory. The images we find in the Gospel this weekend Luke (21:5-19) are scary. They describe great disruption and even destruction. It appears the whole world is overturned.

These images are what scripture calls apocalyptic. It is a type of literature that often leaves us fearful and confused about what it all means. The passage we hear in Luke actually can be seen as hopeful. Yes, it is a challenge, but ultimately, God who has created our common home, continues to bring life and peace. Our call is to be builders of God’s reign among all peoples in our common home.

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