Catholic Social Doctrine: A Reflection on the Kingdom of God and His Christ
The Cross is the sign of the kingdom of Christ
You are the King of Glory: O Christ.
When you had overcome the sharpness of death:
you did open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
But Jesus is not an ordinary King with an ordinary kingdom. Christ's kingdom is a kingdom not of this world. (John 18:36) It is an invisible, spiritual, internal, eternal one--though it is among us, about us, around us, and within us in time until the end of time when it would reach its fulfillment. "The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed," Jesus told the Pharisees, "and no one will announce, 'Look, here it is,' or, 'There it is.' For behold, the kingdom of God is among you." (Luke 17:20-21)
It is a strange kingdom whose king finds his earthly manifestation not on a throne, with gold crown, and lush raiment. What kind of king is it whose glory is to be nailed to a cross--a cross which St. John Eudes called the thronus amoris igneus, the wooden throne of love--with a crown of thorns, essentially disrobed and naked, and a sign, intended to be mocking, but which, ironically, declares his hidden kingship in the three sacred languages, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.
The kingdom of God, St. Paul further explains, "is not a matter of food and drink." Rather, he tells us, it is a matter of "righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit." (Rom. 14:17) This means it is a moral, and even more importantly, a spiritual and supernatural reality, and not simply a bodily, temporal, or social one. It is not something flesh and blood will inherit, like some sort of human realm or human property. (1 Cor. 15:50) It is not just talk, vain hope, empty words, since there is a real power behind it. (1 Cor. 4:20)
Mere words don't allow us admittance; it requires something internal--repentance, a conversion, a "re-turn" to God--and a fixed intention on only doing the will of God the Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 7:21) This means that keeping the commandments and teaching others to keep the commandments is what this kingdom is all about. (Matt:5:19) It is a secret, a mystery, the knowledge of which has been imparted to Christ's intimates, (Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10) and yet one which must be proclaimed to the world.
But what a precious secret which is to be proclaimed to the world and, as it were, made unsecret! It is like a field one discovers contains treasure, and one covers it up, sells all he has, and buys it, so as to become rich in the bargain. (Matt. 13:44) It is the pearl of great price, one for which the spiritual merchant will sell all he has to acquire. (Matt. 13:46)
And yet that secret which is to be unsecreted-proclaimed from the housetops and shown from the hills-is silent, inexplicable, marvelous, and has an organic tendency to grow and bear fruit. And so the kingdom of God is like the mystery of the seed sown by a farmer, which grows, whether tended or not, and which ultimately reaps a huge harvest. It is like a mustard seed, a tiny seed, but one which grows into a huge tree. It is like yeast which is mixed with dough and which makes it rise. (Mark 4:26-32; Luke 13:19-21)
In a sense, the kingdom of God was present in Christ, and is Christ, since he drove out demons and explained that this was a sign that the kingdom of God had come to us. (Matt. 12:28; Luke 11:20) It, in fact, is also mysteriously, intimately, and indissolubly linked to Christ's Church, which is Christ's body, "the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery," (VII, Lumen gentium, No. 3), the "seed and the beginning of that kingdom," (CCC § 768 quoting LG, No. 5), a "sign and instrument of the kingdom." (Dominus Iesus, No. 18)
"In fact, the kingdom of God which we know from revelation, 'cannot be detached either from Christ or from the Church . . . yet while remaining distinct from Christ and the kingdom, the Church is indissolubly united to both." (Dominus Iesus, 18) There is a "unicity" in the "relationship which Christ and the Church have with the kingdom of God." (Dominus Iesus, No. 19) Ubi Christus, ibi ecclesia.
Because this kingdom exists with us in the Church, so the good wheat grow with the tares in the kingdom's field, there is good fish and bad fish in the kingdom's net, which might confuse us or cause scandal. (Matt. 13:24-30, 47-49) We must however remain faithful to Christ and his Church, as those who reject Christ are not part of the kingdom of God. (Matt. 21:43) And yet, it is open to admission for those who, at the last moment of their lives, repent, for the first shall be last, the last shall ...
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