Unlike earthly kingdoms, God’s kingdom is not made of gold, glitter and glamour. No castles, cavalry or courtiers there.
In today’s gospel we hear the opening words of Jesus at the start of his public ministry. As in a relay marathon, wherein a runner takes over the baton from another and carries on with the race, so also Jesus takes over the baton from John the Baptist after the latter was arrested to carry on with the proclamation of God’s kingdom. The first words pronounced by Jesus are the very same words pronounced by John the Baptist when he began to preach: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.”(John Paul II took these words into the rosary’s third Mystery of Light).
The kingdom of God is at the heart of Jesus’ preaching and healing. It was precisely to establish God’s kingdom that he came into the world. Through many of his parables, he gave us a glimpse of what God’s kingdom is like; It is like the seed that is sown in different kinds of soil; like a field where the weeds and the grain grow together; like a tiny mustard seed; like yeast that is mixed with three measures of wheat flour; like a hidden treasure; like a fine pearl; like a dragnet.(Cf. Matthew 13). Jesus also compared the kingdom of God to a wedding banquet (Mt. 22:2tf.), and to ten bridesmaids(Mt. 2S:1tf.).
Through his actions, Jesus showed what God’s kingdom is made of:love, mercy, forgiveness and compassion. Healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and reaching out to repentant sinners that’s what God’s kingdom is all about. By expelling the demons from the possessed persons, Jesus showed that God’s reign was gradually expanding while Satan’s kingdom was coming to an end.
Unlike earthly kingdoms, God’s kingdom is not made of gold, glitter and glamour. No castles, cavalry or courtiers there. God does not reign over towns and cities. His throne is in the hearts of the men and women who let him in and allow him to rule over them. When we recite the Lord’s prayer and say,“Your kingdom come,”we are not asking God to send his kingdom upon us, as he might send food or rain. We are expressing our commitment to build up God’s kingdom and our willingness to be a part of it. We bring God’s kingdom about when we put ourselves under God’s rule and control. Now, the one hundred dollar question: Is God in control of my life-the whole of it? Most likely, not-not all the time, anyway.
That’s why Jesus goes on to tell us: “Repent!” Change your ways, your values, your priorities in life. Give up your idols (money, jewelry, alcohol, gambling … ). Let God take over and be in control of your life. Let him be your King.
The choice of the first apostles (second part of the gospel) could well be the topic of another homily. We, who live in an age of excellence and competitiveness, and who are extremely demanding when it comes to hiring manpower, cannot understand why Jesus chose such simple and unlearned folks to carry on the arduous task of building up God’s kingdom; why not well educated people, such as priests, levites, scribes or Pharisees? For sure, Jesus must have had his reasons. He was not after bright ideas or managerial skills. He was looking for docile and obedient hearts. And that the lowly fishermen had: “They abandoned their nets and followed him,” at once, adds St. Matthew. The learned scribes and Pharisees had only hatred and hostility towards Jesus.
As the popular saying goes: “God does not call the qualified; he qualifies the called.” St. Paul puts it in a better way: “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise; he chose the weak of the world to shame the strong” (ICor. 1:27). Everything God does has a reason.
as published on January 22, 2012, Parish Bulletin