- Fr. John Jennings
Our Sacred Stories: God and Us Living in the Kingdom of God
Covid-19 – this has been our world for the past 7 months. It may be our plight for months to come. No one knows when we might come out of the pandemic. When we do, there will be many things that we will recall about the experience – the community restrictions, the closing of borders, the self-isolation, the masks we wear to protect others. The virus will leave its mark deeply in our experience of this time. This is world in which we live at this time. But our world is larger than this.
We live in Canada. To be a citizen of this country and to live here presents us with expectations. We have a loyalty to this nation and are proud to call ourselves Canadians. It demands that we respect our fellow Canadians and care for the land in which we live. Our citizenship demands that we do what we can for the good of our country, but also that we work to better our world. Our country was founded in 1867 to provide “peace, order and good government” (BNA 1867), but not just for us.
We live in a wider world. The vision is directed beyond our borders, for the common good of all peoples. The peace and well-being of all must be our concern, especially the peace and well-being of the most vulnerable of our world. To have this concern is to express what is found in Pope Francis’s latest encyclical letter, Fratelli tutti (3 Oct 2020). For Francis, we are all sisters and brothers. Everyone is our neighbour. Since we all share a common humanity. We are “Neighbours without borders”.
This can be a stretch for us. But in fact, we are called even further. In another of Pope Francis’s encyclicals, Laudato si (24 May 2015), we are challenged to take up our responsibility for all creation with care for all creatures. The earth, all creation is “Our common home”.
The fundamental message and mission of Jesus and the Gospels is to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is among us. What does it mean? The Good News of Jesus Christ may be stated in this way. As a people of the Kingdom, we see ourselves as living in a loving relationship with God as the community of God’s People, and in love and respect for one another and for all creation. Such loving a relationship with all creation is the fullness of living faith. It is summarized by the Gospel writer Matthew in two commandments – loving God and loving our neighbour (Matt 22:34-40).
We are a community of disciples, a sign and sacrament of God and God’s Kingdom in the midst of our world. How we live makes the Reign of God come alive. Together, in every Eucharistic gathering, we pray the Our Father and we hear ourselves ask of God “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” To do so is to pray for the fullness of the Kingdom, among us. Let us pray for our “common home”.
God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love
For all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and resources that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
That they may love the common good, advance the weak,
And care for this world in which we live. The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us width your power and light, help us to protect all life,
To prepare for a better future, for the coming of your Kingdom
Of justice, peace, love and beauty. (Laudato si 246)