The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home
February 18th, 2018 – First Sunday of Lent
Don’t be fooled by the brevity of today’s gospel. Just a couple of lines, but those lines communicate one of the most important ideas in all the gospels. After noting the many days Jesus spent in the desert and his being tempted by Satan, we hear the big announcement from Jesus himself. “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
End of story? No, just the opposite. The Beginning! We will have to read all the four gospels, the many inspired letters of St. Paul and others, to give us the whole meaning of what that entails. Some prefer calling it “the reign of God” because the use of language more fitting to royalty might create the wrong impression. Certainly, Jesus was no king in the usual sense of that word. Also, the word “king” is obviously a masculine designation and the kingdom of God is for all.
Most agree that this image or metaphor points to the central message of the gospels. It’s also important to keep in mind the significance of Jesus saying that it is “at hand.” It’s being created by God right now, having begun with the life of Jesus on earth. And it continues to be in the process of happening right now.
Let’s start by noting what it is not. It’s not about a political body like a nation or multi-national organization. It’s not a church, which may surprise some. The Catholic Church at Vatican II said that the church is part of or exists in the kingdom of God. But it is not identified with it. Nor is it present just on earth. In is both in heaven and on earth, to use traditional images.
Mostly, the kingdom of God, as meant by Jesus, describes a reality that is within us (a transformed state of mind and heart). It’s also unfolding between us in the love we have for each other and for God. It exists wherever the transforming creative power of God’s Spirit is present and active. Every day each of us is invited to do something to enhance God’s kingdom. The smallest gesture of love for others, especially those we meet each day in our family or work or neighbourhood counts. One act of love at a time. And what we contribute is never lost. Lent is a great time to increase our contribution.
I know that says a lot (and much more can be said) but this may help us to understand why announcing God’s kingdom was so important to Jesus – and should be to us.
©David M. Thomas, PhD