Our Sacred Stories: The Kingdom Near Us, With Us & Among Us
Beginnings and endings are important. The first looks to the future, our goals, our aims our hopes and dreams. The second is about our arrivals, our fulfillment, our completions and results. In between, there is all the effort, the work, the challenges and struggles, the attempts and the failures, the twists and turns of the journey. Life is just such a journey, in fact, a host of journeys. What we may sometimes not be aware of in the picture is the way in which the Spirit journeys with us, from beginning to end.
Ten months ago, in January we entered into a pandemic with Covid-19. Since then, our world has found itself facing uncertainty and threat. Our lives have been changed by the virus and by the measures taken in response to it. As we pass through this experience, we know we are not alone. We journey with the Spirit of God among us, and in company with the whole human community. We are in this together.
There has been hope and promise. A virus vaccine is on the horizon, but still months away and so we wait in expectation that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, together we work to keep each other safe, and use our talents, gifts and abilities to help our world come to that light. We are in this together.
Our sacred stories in the Scriptures present us with the good news of the Kingdom of God, hopeful news, signs of God’s love and constant presence among us. Matthew’s Gospel begins with telling the story of the beginning – God has come among us, taking on our humanity in Jesus, an expression of God’s love (Matt 1:18-23). This is the Incarnation.
Jesus begins his mission with the great challenge to all humanity: He announced: “I call you to a change of heart, for the Kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matt 4:17). This was the message we heard ten months ago, in January. We were called to recognize we are not alone in our life journey. “Emmanuel”, God is with us. This is the message.
The core message and mission of Jesus, the Christ was to proclaim the Kingdom of God among us. His work among the poor and the suffering, the sick and the sinner was to heal and reconcile. By word and by work, Jesus made God’s Kingdom present. This is Good News, the Gospel.
What is also Good News is that Jesus shared not only his message with his disciples. He also shared his mission. The Reign of God has begun among us. We are Jesus present here and now. Like Jesus, in word and in action and gifted with his Spirit, we are to make God’s Kingdom present and alive in our world. This is the mission.
What does this world with the Kingdom look like? How are we to recognize and announce this? The Kingdom is not about the power of dominance, greed and control. It is a Kingdom that reflects the Spirit of Jesus, the face of our loving God. Such a Kingdom is marked by care, compassion and tenderness. It seeks peace and solidarity between individuals and across borders. This is the Kingdom.
Our faith is relational. It is built and expressed in how we live with one another, for we are disciples of Jesus, together called to bring the Kingdom to the world, to all humanity. In that fulfilled and completed Kingdom, Jesus the Christ will say: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.” (Matt 25:31-40)