And What Is This Kingdom?
Continuing our way through Cardinal Wuerl's Seek First the Kingdom .... One of the realities about this kingdom of God is just what is it as Jesus established it on earth for us. Unfortunately for us, this kingdom is not, like our societies throughout the world, composed of Angels, Archangels, Dominions, Powers etc. Clay feet! The kingdom of God as Jesus founded it is built on clay feet! The clay feet of the Twelve, the clay feet of their successors, the clay feet of the different levels of the clergy and religious, the clay feet of all the people of God. What I am saying is this: the kingdom of God as we see it in our world is not perfect. Scandals have marred the kingdom's appearance and spirit throughout the centuries. When you hear the genealogy of the House of David on Christmas Eve, please, don't think that all those names are ideals for us to follow.
But on the other side of the coin, Jesus entrusted certain powers to the community we call Church. In some of its members we find genuine saints ... even before these folks finish their life on earth. We must not forget that Jesus commanded the disciples to carry the news of the kingdom not just in homilies and conversations. They were to use the powers entrusted to them to perform wondrous deeds. That power continues to exist among not just the clergy in our Church but among laity as well. Just recently I encountered a hurting soul who had recently come to a new life in the spirit ... all because of a friend who brought her to a prayer group meeting. It was an experience for the woman that opened her heart and spiritual eyes of faith. When she walked her walk for those at the meeting, she found that others had had to climb over similar rocks on their journey. Through their encouragement the hurting soul became a new person. In truth she had found that life in the Church is life in the kingdom of God. She had to trust someone to lead her there. Furthermore that "there" had to be an experience of God's grace, God's healing ministry shared by laity as well as clergy.
As a society, we contemporaries have been very critical men and women. I know for me, as a priest, Christmas parties become a genuine opportunity to atone for some of my sins! Why? Listening to the unhappiness that exists in parish life for many people. Listening to the pain that some in our community we call Church inflict upon on another is truly one heavy hors d'ouvers! But, friends, it is the real world that we live in. Unfortunately it is a kingdom on earth that is both spiritual and temporal. Yet, the challenge we have is to see beyond the chinks in the armor. Are we any better than Jesus who had to encounter those who did not trust him, those who feared him, those whose set ways were challenged by him?
One of the greatest blessings that God has given either me or you is that each of us has the opportunity to be like John the Baptist. Through our dedication to our faith, we can help make straight the crooked ways we encounter. Perhaps the most demanding characteristic of our Church, the kingdom of God on this earth, is HOPE. We cannot abandon the gifts God has given us simply because we find a faulty light bulb! Parents on occasion find themselves disappointed, frustrated even angry at times with their offspring. Yet how rare it is to find a parent who gives up hope that a confused and hurting offspring will turn around and become truly a pride and joy.
In our kingdom of God it is no different. Adults will be kids at times. We must always hope. It is the nature of the kingdom of God on this earth to work its way through painful moments ... because we have been promised a kingdom beyond belief ... because we can hope for what is better, what has been promised to us.