Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
The Gospel is all about the kingdom. “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field…Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls…Again the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea…” (Matt.14:44)
The proclamation of the coming of the Kingdom dominated the preaching and teaching of Jesus. “To the other towns also I must proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” (Luke 4:44) “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe.” “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all of these things will be given to you besides.” He taught his disciples to pray in the “Our Father... thy Kingdom come.”
Just what is this Kingdom? The kingdom is described for us in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. It is a kingdom of truth and life, holiness and justice, love and peace. But it is a kingdom that is short-lived. Man, wanting to be like God, rebelled and was banished from the kingdom. In the fullness of time Jesus came to restore and usher in anew the Kingdom of God which begins in this life and finds its completion in the next life.
Jesus described the Kingdom in worldly images, in parables: the sower and the seed (Matt.13:3-23) the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31-32) the growing seed (Mark 4:26-29) the wheat and the weeds (Matt. 13:24-30) the pearl of great price (Matt. 13:45-46) the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:23-35) the workers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16) the wedding feast (Matt. 22:2-14) the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21) the prodigal son. (Luke 15:11-30) Jesus is the King of this Kingdom. But He is a most unusual King; he is a crucified King. And from his royal throne on the cross he extends his royal invitation to his subjects. “If anyone will come after me he must pick up his cross daily and follow me.” There are no states in this Kingdom that are more perfect than any other. Everyone is called to reach the potential that he has been given.
In the Kingdom there is only one law, and that is love. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend of these two commandments.” (Matt 22: 37-40) “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you so you also should love one another.” (John 13: 34) Love is the irrefutable, instantly verifiable sign of Christian identity. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 35)
When he was asked WHO IS THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM Jesus called a child over and said, “Unless you turn and become like children you will not enter the Kingdom of God.” (Matt. 18:3) “You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned and have revealed them to the childlike.” (Matt. 11:25)
What does it mean to be childlike? It doesn’t mean to be childish. It means to be TOTALLY IMMERSED IN THE PRESENT. A child does not have a past to feel guilty about. A child knows nothing about the future to worry about. So they live in the present, in the real world, which is the only reality. That is why they can learn and assimilate so quickly. Adult waste so much and time and energy on the past and the future both of which do not exist.
To be childlike means TO HAVE A SENSE OF WONDER. Nothing is dull or complacent to a child, everything is new and exciting. They live in a magic kingdom where there are tongues in trees, books in running brooks and good in everything. They find themselves the center of a wonderful world. They want to know about everything. Their constant question is: why? Adults have lost their sense of wonder. They have been there, done that, it is all the “same old same old.” They live in a dull, monotonous world where they are bored to death.
To be childlike means TO EXPERIENCE AN UNCONDITIONAL LOVE of their parents that is not based on their possessions or achievements. Most adults do not experience the unconditional love of God and therefore base their security on their possessions and achievements. They base their security on wealth, health, laws, insurance, weapons, treaties, stocks and bonds, on the stars, tea leaves, and crystal balls.
But how can I be childlike? I am an adult. I do have a past for which I feel guilty and a future about which I worry. I have been there and done that. And I feel unlovable so how can anyone love me unconditionally?
Faith makes it possible for me to be childlike. I can live in the present because my faith assures me that I have the mercy of God for the past and the providence of God for the future. I can have a sense of wonder because faith ushers us into a wonderful world that is more mysterious and more romantic than we world of the senses. I can have a sense of security which is based on the unconditional love of God because my faith tells me that God loves me unconditionally with a love I cannot earn or ever be worthy of. And God loves me for myself, not as I could be or should be but as I really am with all of the physical warts, psychological quirks and spiritual infidelities.
be childlike, to be among the greatest in the kingdom,
is to live in the present, to have a sense of
awe and wonder and to have our security
rooted firmly in the fidelity of the love of God.
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