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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ God’s Reign for Humanity and All Creation

Our God is an awesome God

He reigns from heaven above

With wisdom, power and love

Our God is an awesome God.


This is the beginning of one of the hymns most loved in a parish where I once served, especially in gatherings with youth.  In many ways it expressed the faith, trust and hopes of our Christian faith.  The reign of God is for all peoples, in all places at all times.

               

The Gospel writers often present us with the surprising character of Jesus’s message.  In Mark’s version, we see that even Jesus’s own family found what he was saying and doing to be a shock (Mark 3:20-35).  The message that God’s reign is near and among us seems too much for many to accept, beyond belief.


We live in a world where war, violence, injustice and is a constant presence.  We see this presence in the various conflicts in the Middle East, in the local conflicts in various African States, in the ongoing tensions in the Ukraine.  Normally, we view war and its impact from a human perspective.  We see nation pitted against nation, people fighting people, army against army.  The impact of war and conflict reaches far beyond the combatant themselves.  It has its impact on all.  It is truly a universal tragedy affecting all humanity and all of creation.


Counter to this image of war and violence is the image of the kingdom or the reign of God that we hear Jesus proclaim as he begins his ministry.  Mark presents this proclamation:


Jesus went into Galilee.  There he proclaimed the Good News from God. 

“The time has come,” he said “and the reign of God is close at hand.” 

(Mark 1:14-15)


What is this reign of God all about?  What does Jesus proclaim through his message and his mission to the world?


The idea of the reign of God finds its roots in the Old Testament.  The Jewish People recognized  that their God was personally present and active among them as a People.  The God of Israel intervened and acted in their story, their history.  Perhaps the best example of this, one which they often recalled, was the Exodus event.  They saw this liberation from slavery as a work of God among them through Moses.  In addition, the Jewish Scriptures acknowledge that God is also present in all of creation around them.


At the very beginning of the Old Testament, this sense of God’s presence acting in all creation appears in the stories of creation in the Book of Genesis.  Jesus’ proclamation that the reign of God is close at hand grows out of this way of seeing God as present in our history and in all of creation.  As Jesus begins his ministry, he announces that God is about to break into our world in a new and powerful way.  He announces this reign time and again in his words and actions.  It will be this completed, fulfilled reign of God that will bring peace and harmony to humanity and healing and wholeness to creation. Jesus truly proclaims an awesome God.  Theologian Dermot Lane writes:

 

                The future reign of God is about the gathering up by God into a condition

of fulfilment and transformation of all the human efforts in this life which

are directed towards the creation of peace and justice in the world around

us....  The reign of God is ultimately about re-establishing right relationships between God and humanity, between humanity and the individual, between humanity and the whole of creation.  (Lane. Christ at the Centre 21)

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