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  • Fr. John Jennings

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.

Today we are at a time in our history that is filled with uncertainty. Perhaps this is always true of the human journey. But at the moment it seems more sharply defined. Two elements seem especially significant for us. The first element is a political one. War and division threaten millions of people around the world, even to the level of war. Most especially, we see this in both Ukraine and in the Middle East. The issues involved are complex and the impact on people around the world even beyond those directly involved is immense.

A second uncertainty is not a violent one, but it is for many, disturbing. The prospect of significant changes taking place within our Christian community or church causes confusion and anxiety for some. This is what we can experience as our Catholic community faces many issues and questions. In attempting to address these challenges, we find ourselves wrestling with how to handle the road ahead. For our church, the manner of doing this now, is by way of a synod that involves all of us who are part of the baptized People of God – lay people and clergy. The Synod on Synodality involves all of us, whether we want to be or not.

In the midst of our human journey, we need to know we are not alone. We journey with the Spirit of God among us, and in company with the whole human community. With this accompaniment comes hope and with hope, a measure of peace and certainly a sense of support from God and from those with whom we are journeying.

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: “Repent, 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 core message of Jesus, the Christ. His work among the poor and the suffering, the sick and the sinner was to heal and renew. This is Good News, the Gospel.

What is also Good News is that Jesus shared not only his message, but 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.

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)

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