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Concerning the Kingdom
Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop
Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.” Then he said to his disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I am grateful for being able to spend time with you. Please open my mind and heart to receive your word and your grace. Increase my faith, hope, and love, so that I may live this day according to your will. I also bring to this prayer all the souls entrusted to my intercession.
- Misconstrued Kingdom: It was not only the Pharisees who wanted to know when the Kingdom of God would come. So did Our Lord’s followers. But they all expected that the Messiah and his kingdom were going to be political. After the multiplication of the loaves the people wanted to make Jesus king (John 6:15). Through their mother, John and James asked to sit at Jesus’ right and his left in his kingdom (Matthew 20:21). On another occasion Jesus caught the apostles debating about who among them was the greatest; once caught, they knew enough to be embarrassed ( Mark 9:34). It seems their discussion of greatness was repeated during the Last Supper (Luke 22:24-25). Even the sign at the top of the cross stated, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). To this day, people sometimes want to reduce Our Lord’s message of salvation to a political treatise.
- Kingdom of God: ”Jesus said in reply, ‘The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.’” In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the three ways in which the Kingdom of God might be understood. Firstly, Jesus himself is the Kingdom. Secondly, we understand that in a mystical sense, Jesus is present within us. Finally, the Church is God’s Kingdom on earth. All three debunk the political understanding of Our Lord’s Kingdom. In Jesus, the Kingdom of God was literally among the Jews, but few realized it. His mystical presence in us is real and yet not something empirically verifiable. And while the Church is a visible reality, its power is not primarily political in nature, but spiritual and moral. That is why its witness is often strongest when it is politically weakest.
- The Kingdom’s Arrival: Jesus addressed the issue of his second coming and, even though he spoke, the event is still shrouded in mystery. “There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.” In another passage Jesus stated, “Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42). This watching for the Lord’s coming refers to the eventual destruction of Jerusalem, Our Lord’s coming in the Eucharist, and the end of time. All three require vigilance on our part. If we are attentive when we receive him in the Eucharist and when we meet him in prayer, we need not fear death or the second coming.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you are the Kingdom of God who has come into the world. You have established that Kingdom in and through your Church so that many people, including me, may have the opportunity for mystical union with you. Please grant me the grace to abide in your love, and in so doing bear much fruit (John 15:4-5). May we, your disciples, follow you with confidence for as long as our journey on this earth endures, to at last enter into the joy of your Heavenly Kingdom.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will offer a small sacrifice for the unity and sanctity of the Catholic Church.
For Further Reflection: Read Living the Reality of the Kingdom of Christ| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com).