Already, But Not Yet

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

Driving around town these days can be a really frustrating experience. So many roads are under construction, and detours, closed ramps, merging lanes, concrete barricades and orange barrels are everywhere. While the work certainly has to be done, and we applaud those who are doing it, the driving experience is challenging nonetheless.

But here’s a thought: Through the eyes of faith the construction work has spiritual value to it, for the incomplete road work is an apt analogy for the Kingdom of God.

The concept of God’s Kingdom offers a real dilemma for believers. On one hand Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom of God is already “in your midst.” It is a kingdom of “truth and life; a kingdom of holiness and grace; a kingdom of justice, love and peace,” the liturgy on the Feast of Christ the King reminds us.

But our daily experience is often very far from that ideal. We live in a world of discrimination and division, anger and aggression, persecution and poverty, both spiritual and material. And perhaps our personal lives are marked by problems, sin and sorrow as well. “Where is this Kingdom of God of which you preach?” you’re likely to ask. The disillusionment is understandable.

It’s important, though, that we never get discouraged. We believe that someday Jesus will come again to finish the work he has begun; that he will return to bring his kingdom to completion. Until then, we’ll just have to live in an imperfect, flawed world. Yes, the Kingdom of God is already here, but it’s not yet complete!

So, what do we do in the meantime? Well, first, we pray for the coming of the kingdom, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come!” And, secondly, we do our best to build the kingdom through our works of charity, justice and peace.

The Kingdom of God is under construction. And every time we help someone, forgive someone, or welcome someone; every time we say a few kind words to someone, we contribute to the kingdom – one brick at a time. But we need to be humble construction workers. We acknowledge that while we’ll certainly do our best, Jesus is King, and God is still in charge!

Something to think about: Today, through your kind words or charitable deeds, can you make some contribution to the building of God’s Kingdom?