Thursday, 14th Week in Ordinary Time
“As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
The kingdom offered by Jesus inaugurated a new social order, a new time when the poor and people of all times will experience something radically new and different from whatever else they have experienced so far. What was new about the social order that Jesus came to inaugurate? The liberation that Jesus offered the people of his time was at the same time a proclamation of things which were totally new to his contemporaries. The kingdom he proclaimed set off a new social order with: a new vision of the human person – that valued persons beyond positions, possessions, education; a new way of valuing that set in sharp contrast the values of the forces of evil and forces of good.
Our faith proclaims that this kingdom is realized in Jesus. “To enter” the kingdom is to accept Jesus into our lives. The kingdom that Jesus proclaimed and the salvation that is at the heart of it are embodied in his person. The kingdom therefore is not a ‘place’ that we enter but rather a condition or a way of life that is created. That is why ‘reign of God’ is often preferred rather ‘kingdom’ that sometimes connotes a place.
The kingdom is realized when people accept Jesus into their lives. This acceptance is a response in faith. It includes accepting Jesus’ values, teachings, ideals, and vision of reality. The kingdom is within persons.
But the kingdom does not remain a personal, interior reality. Acceptance of Jesus – living his values and his vision – should affect the way we, his disciples, relate to one another. It should influence the way we relate to our family. It should have a bearing on the way we deal with our friends. It should alter the way we see and consider our enemies. and people of other races or cultures. Acceptance of Jesus and the kingdom should also affect the way we respond to situations or events in our society and in our community. It should move us to alleviate the situation of the poor. It should impel us to confront oppression and violence. It should drive us to fight graft and corruption.
The kingdom has an interpersonal and societal dimension. The kingdom is not a ‘private’ reality. Disciples who have accepted the kingdom become light and salt of the earth. (Mt. 5:13-16) May our lives be a living proclamation that, indeed, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”