SURE YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS?
|CHRIST THE KING|
The familiarity of so much of the Sacred Scripture we hear in the Gospels and Readings at Mass, can tend to put our minds into a kind of "cruise control" mode. In this way many very familiar phrases never get particular attention. This is even more the case when they are never preached upon.
Consider Our Lord's Incarnation, Public Life, Death and Resurrection. His purpose was to effect our Eternal Salvation:
"Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” John 18:37 RSVCE
To set about this Divine Purpose without infringing man's freewill it was necessary to gradually open mens' minds to the Truth about His Divinity in a manner that would allow the message to spread as widely as possible before , inevitably, man sought His Death. And it would necessitate leaving behind Him an organisation capable of carrying on His work until the end of time.
Those necessities are clear enough, and, Jesus did in fact explicitly found " My Church" and appoint Saint Peter and his Successors to head that Church. And He armed that Church with the Seven Sacraments to fulfill His promise to remain with His Church until the end of time. That is a precise summary of Our Lord's activity.
And yet, it does not take explicit account of two phrases Jesus very frequently used :
The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Now, in our mental "Cruise Control" Mode, the two seem more or less interchangeable.
But it takes only a light challenge to that mode of non-thought, as we begin to read the context of the use of each phrase, to see that each is quite different. Each has a different meaning.Once we are on the track of those meanings, it is obvious that as its name suggests, The Kingdom of Heaven is the state of Eternal Rest with Almighty God in Paradise. The Kingdom of God on the other hand, is plainly here on Earth :
"The Kingdom of God has come upon you" Matt 12:28
" therefore I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it." Matt.21:43
" The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel." Mark 1:15
" Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." Mark 10:15
" ....I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other cities also;...." Luke 4:43
" ...and He sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal." Luke 9:2
" Truly, truly,I say to you unless one is born anew he cannot see the Kingdom of God."John 3:3
" Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God." John 3:5
" And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, arguing and pleading about the Kingdom of God." Acts 19:8
"... preaching the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered.." Acts 28:31
"....These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the Kingdom of God....." Colossians 4:11
" ... that you may be made worthy of the Kingdom of God for which you are suffering..." 2 Thessalonians 1:5
"At one time the "kingdom" means the sway of grace in men's hearts, e.g. in the parable of the seed growing secretly (Mark 4:26 sq.; cf. Matthew 21:43); and thus, too, it is opposed to and explained by the opposite kingdom of the devil (Matthew 4:8; 12:25-26). At another time it is the goal at which we have to aim, e.g. Matthew 3:3. Again it is a place where God is pictured as reigning (Mark 14:25). In the second petition of the "Our Father" — "Thy kingdom come" — we are taught to pray as well for grace as for glory. As men grew to understand the Divinity of Christ they grew to see that the kingdom of God was also that of Christ — it was here that the faith of the good thief excelled: "Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom." So, too, as men realized that this kingdom stood for a certain tone of mind, and saw that this peculiar spirit was enshrined in the Church, they began to speak of the Church as "the kingdom of God"; cf. Colossians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Apocalypse 1:6-9 and 5:10, etc. The kingdom was regarded as Christ's and He presents it to the Father; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23-28; 2 Timothy 4:1. The kingdom of God means, then, the ruling of God in our hearts; it means those principles which separate us off from the kingdom of the world and the devil; it means the benign sway of grace; it means the Church as that Divine institution whereby we may make sure of attaining the spirit of Christ and so win that ultimate kingdom of God Where He reigns without end in "the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God" (Revelation 21:2)."
It seems to me then, that the Kingdom of God is what Christ intended His Church to be , it is the continuing ideal to which she should be striving and it should be her best understanding of herself and explanation of herself, for when she is all that she should be, she will in fact be the Kingdom of God.It is up to us to " make it so."