THURSDAY HOMILY: The Kingdom of God is Among You. Called to Spread the Kingdom
In Jesus Christ, the Kingdom has been inaugurated
The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures." To fulfill the Father's will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church "is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery."
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - On Thursday of the 32d week in Ordinary time during this Year of Faith we hear a passage from St. Luke (Luke 17:20-25) proclaimed at Mass. It speaks of the Kingdom of God. The word kingdom can also be translated "reign" of God. In Jesus Christ the Reign of God has already come, and is coming.
The first two verses are where I draw our attention: "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."
The question asked by the Pharisees echoes throughout time as men and women experience the travail unleashed by man's separation from God. The effects are within us and around us. That separation is the result of sin. It can only be healed through a Savior. The Good News, which is what the word "Gospel" actually means, is that the Father has sent the Savior, Jesus Christ. He has inaugurated the Kingdom.
What we witness around us - and experience within us - often does not reflect Gods loving plan. We know that and we long for more. We long for the fullness of His Kingdom. With His response to the Pharisees the Lord opens a deeper understanding of the Kingdom as a present reality. He also instructs us concerning our vocation as disciples to continue its spread - within us, among us, and in the whole world.
We do this by living in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world. There we continue His redemptive mission. Our membership in the Church is a participation in the life of God; what the Apostle Peter referred to as a "participation in the Divine nature". (2 Peter 1:4) It is thus a participation in the kingdom of which the Church is both a seed and sign. In one of its numerous and rich expositions of the mystery of the kingdom, the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:
"It was the Son's task to accomplish the Father's plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its accomplishment was the reason for his being sent. "The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures." To fulfill the Father's will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church "is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery." (CCC #763)
In an earlier chapter of his Gospel, St. Luke records one of many parables which teach us of the kingdom: "Jesus said, "What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches." Again he said, "To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened." (Luke 13: 18 - 21)
We are both the soil and the seed. The Living Word has been sown within us. We must cultivate the ground of our hearts so that we can be transformed in the Lord and more fully and completely reflect His Image and Likeness, allowing the Kingdom of God to grow within us.(See, LK 17:21) We are called to grow in holiness and progressively reflect the Risen life of Jesus Christ for others.
There is also a missionary meaning, of special importance as we consider our call to New Evangelization and the Year of Faith. We are seed, held in His Blood stained Hands, being spread into the world He still loves. That world which was created through Him is now being re-created through Him. We are living seeds of the Kingdom in the garden of the world and we are called to bear the fruits of the Kingdom.
St. Jose Maria Escriva once wrote: "May Our Lord be able to use us so that, placed as we are at all the cross-roads of the world - and at the same time placed in God - we become salt, leaven and light. Yes, you are to be in God, to enlighten, to give flavor, to produce growth and new life. But don't forget that we are not the source of this light: we only reflect it." (St. Jose Maria Escriva, Friends of God, 250)
Through our Baptism the Church becomes our home, our mother, the place in which we now live our lives in Christ. We are sons and daughters of the Church. In living our lives in her we carry forward in time the continuing redemptive mission of Jesus Christ who is the Head of His Body and make the Kingdom present now. In its treatment of this "mystery" of the Church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
"To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark ...
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