It’s a beautiful and evocative time in the liturgical year of the Church, isn’t it?
We’ve just celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King when we proclaim the universal rule of Christ and look forward to the glorious time of final victory, when, as the Scripture says, “he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (I Cor 15: 24-25)
And this coming Sunday we begin the Season of Advent, a time that offers a respite from our daily activities and worries, a time of quiet longing, prayer and peace. With Isaiah the Prophet we look forward to that day when peace and justice shall reign, when “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; when one nation shall not raise their sword against another.” (Is 2: 4) As we hope and pray for worldwide peace and harmony, we pray that those virtues will take hold of our personal lives too!
Without a doubt, the Feast of Christ the King and the Season of Advent point us to the future, a glorious and peaceful future when the Kingdom of God will be revealed and justice and peace will prevail. It is a hope and prayer that is integral to the Christian life. We express that longing every time we say the Lord’s Prayer and plead, “Thy kingdom come!” And in the Holy Mass we express the same sentiment “as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The Kingdom of God, however, is not simply a mystical notion that we long for with our eyes fixed on a distant horizon. It’s a tangible Kingdom that we need to proclaim and build right here and now, in our everyday lives!
Pope Francis addressed the present reality of the Kingdom of God in one of his fine daily homilies. There he said, “The Kingdom of God is humble, like the seed: humble but it becomes great by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is up to us to let it grow in us.”
The Kingdom of God is found in those who struggle with the challenges of everyday life, but who also pray, our Holy Father taught. He explained: “There is the Kingdom of God, hidden, in the holiness of daily life. Because the Kingdom of God is not far from us, it is near! It is close to us every day.”
So as Christians we await and pray for the future coming of the Kingdom of God but in fact, it is already here! There is an Italian phrase that expresses the mystery of God’s Kingdom this way: “Tra il gia e il non ancora,” that is, “between the already and the not yet.”
So, how do we implement the Kingdom of God in our own time and place?
Well, first of all, by our practice of prayer.
When we pray we recognize the presence and providence of God in our lives as well as our dependence on him for everything that is good and holy. Whether we pray in adoration, contrition, thanksgiving or supplication, we acknowledge that God is in charge, and that we are the subjects, the sons and daughters, of his Kingdom.
We recognize the present reality of God’s Kingdom by accepting with faith and trust the disappointments and even suffering that come our way. Everyone suffers, at one time or another, in one way or another. But in God’s Kingdom, weakness is strength and suffering always results in victory. As Blessed Mother Teresa said: “Suffering will never be completely absent from our lives. If we accept it with faith, we are given the opportunity to share the passion of Jesus and show him our love.”
Another way in which we manifest the reality of God’s Kingdom is by living a moral life and keeping the Commandments of the Lord. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (Jn 14: 15) Jesus said. And again, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Mt 7: 21) The Commandments of God, Old Testament and New, are the constitutional principles of God’s Kingdom and we must strive to live good and holy lives to be counted among the citizens of that Kingdom.
Finally, we recognize the present reality of God’s Kingdom by loving one another, especially the poor and needy. Jesus has already given us the questions for our final exam in the parable of the final judgment. “The King will say, ‘Come you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry . . .’” (Mt 25: 31-46) We shouldn’t be surprised then that the way we treat one another will determine our status in the Kingdom of God for it is a “kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” (Roman Missal) I wonder – are you prepared for your final exam?
So, if you’re looking for the Kingdom of God, it’s good to ask, “What are you waiting for?” Don’t just stand there; don’t just wait for it; work for it! And make it real in your life every day, beginning today!