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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ God and Us: Life in the Kingdom of God

Our world can be a dangerous place, but it is the world in which we find ourselves. Currently, we face many challenges. No one can ignore the war centered in Gaza and Israel, but spilling over into other areas of the Middle East. The war facing Ukraine and Russia cannot but affect eastern Europe and beyond. At the same time, we face an obvious global threat from climate change and its impacts. In fact, no one can stand apart from all these challenges. We are all part of a global community and we all have a fundamental responsibility for one another.

Our vision must be directed beyond our own limited world, 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 breadth of concern is to express what is found in Pope Francis’s 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”.

Recently, Pope Francis expressed this same global vision of humanity in his most recent reflection. Looking back at our global experience of Covid-19, he commented that it was a reminder that our world is one and that what happens in part, affects us all. Then he noted: “This allows me to reiterate two convictions that I repeat over and over again: ‘Everything is connected’ and ‘No one is saved alone.’” (Laudate Deum, 4 Oct 2023)

The fundamental message and mission of Jesus and the Gospels is to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is among us, all of 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).

In any relationship, one of the key elements is that of listening. Over the last three weeks, Rome has witnessed a gathering of bishops, theologians, laity, religious and clergy in a “synod”. The literal meaning of this Greek word is “to travel together”. As we journey together, listening is essential. Respectful listening has been the character for this first session, Oct 9-25. Following this session there will be a year of discernment and then a second synodal session (Oct 2024) to hear some of the discernment. We are at the beginning of seeing ourselves as a synodal church. We have much to learn. As a global church, learning to listen can open us to see that we can “live unity in diversity”.

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, a kingdom of justice, peace and love in our common home .

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