Liturgical notes

A Different Kingdom

A kingdom is a people reigned over by a king or a queen. The monarch demands loyalty and obedience from the people if they wish to remain in the kingdom. The ruler makes all the major decisions considered to be for the good of the people. A good monarch promotes four basic values that are essential for a kingdom to thrive. They are freedom, justice, peace, and charity. Freedom isn’t about doing what we want. Rather it’s having the opportunity to attain our zenith as human beings. Justice is about being fair and doing right by one another. It’s also about holding one another accountable and responsible for making restitution for damage done to others. Peace is about being at ease within our self and with others. It’s also about healing and forgiveness. Charity is about generosity of spirit; giving without counting the cost. Sadly, no earthly kingdom implements these values perfectly. Yet, every human being, consciously or unconsciously, seeks to be free and achieve wholeness, treated justly, have inner peace, and be loved.

Jesus came announcing a new kingdom, the Kingdom of God. “After John’s arrest, Jesus appeared in Galilee proclaiming the good news of God: ‘This is the time of fulfilment. The kingdom of God is close at hand! Repent and believe in the Gospel!’” (Mk 1:14-15) “Kingdom of God” is found 122 times in the New Testament and is uttered by Jesus 90 times. Jesus’ kingdom differs radically from earthly kingdoms. “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom were of this world my subjects would be fighting to save me from being handed over to the Jews. As it is, my kingdom is not here.” (Jn 18:36) The Kingdom is different because the King is different. When Pilate questioned Jesus about His kingship, He replied, “It is you who say I am a king. The reason I was born, the reason why I came into this world, is to testify to the truth. Anyone committed to the truth hears my voice.’” (Jn 18:37) In God’s kingdom Jesus, who is the Truth, teaches the people the truth and empowers them to be free, just, peaceful, and charitable. God’s Kingdom is Good News for all who hope to satisfy their innate yearnings for these values.

Jesus is the only way to God’s kingdom. He founded His Church to bring the truth about what’s available in His kingdom and how to enter it and find perfect and lasting happiness. He points out that true riches, namely our soul’s fulfilment, are found only in God’s kingdom, and nowhere else. “So do not worry; do not say, ‘What are we to eat? What are we to drink? What are we to wear?’ It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on His kingdom first, and on His righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Mt 6:31-34) God’s kingdom focuses us on the present with an eye to the future by trusting in our heavenly Father’s divine providence. The more we concentrate on making the most of the present the more prepared we are to face the future walking by faith in God’s guidance, and not by relying entirely on what we see.

We’re in God’s Kingdom when we let Jesus reign over us as our King. When we do, in the words of St. Paul, “We are always full of confidence … We walk by faith, not by sight … we are intent on pleasing Him. For all the truth about us will be brought out in the law court of Christ, and each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good or bad.” (2 Cor 6:6-10) Like any earthly kingdom, God’s kingdom has rules, namely the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. Freely obeying these rules means we let Jesus direct our life and we benefit from what His kingdom offers that no earthly kingdom can. This is why Jesus teaches us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mt 6:10)

Where is God’s kingdom? How do we find it? It’s where Jesus is visibly present, namely in His Church – her Scriptures and Sacraments – which He founded on Peter to whom He gave the Keys of Kingdom of Heaven. (Mt 16:19) After authorizing His Apostles to “Baptize all nations … teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you”, He assured them, “And know that I am with you always until the end of the world.” (Mt 28:19-20)  Jesus’ Church is the visible sign that God’s kingdom is near. We enter it through Baptism. Like the mustard seed, faith in Jesus begins small but expands us as men and women who now know how to be truly free, just, at peace, and loving in our daily life. Having Jesus reign over us generates an inner disposition that creates an outward attitude which prioritizes nourishment of our soul over satisfying the blind urges of our body. It also spurs the formation of a community whose King promotes truth, freedom, justice, peace and charity in His people. (frsos)