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Friar’s E-Spirations: The Kingdom of God

There is much in the news these days about the New Evangelization. This E-spiration on the kingdom of God is at the heart of what Evangelization is all about.

According to the prominent theologian, Father Richard P. McBrien, the kingdom of God can be defined as “the redemptive presence of God.” This redemptive (or saving) presence of God is found in everyday personal experiences. “Whenever people love one another,” he says, “forgive one another, bear one another’s burdens, work to build up a just and peaceful community . . . God’s redemptive and liberating presence is being manifested.”

In a sense, the word redemptive is not needed in this definition because God’s presence is redemptive of its very nature. In fact, McBrien says, “The kingdom of God is in reality God—God in so far as God is at work in the created order.”

Not Just for the Future

That’s right. The kingdom is not just for some future time. In other words, we should not identify the kingdom only with heaven. As McBrien emphasizes, “When we pray, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ we are hoping also for the inbreaking of God’s power—right now—in our daily lives. Our God is a living God. God’s power is a present power.”

Seeing the Kingdom as Past, Present, and Future

The past. First, the evangelizing mission of the Church is to proclaim “that the kingdom of God has already come, and most definitively in Jesus Christ. The Church proclaims this conviction through its preachings of the Word and through the sacraments which commemorate and celebrate God’s intervening in our history through Jesus.”

The present. Secondly, “The Church is called to be a living and vibrant model—or sign—of the reality of the kingdom of God so that people today, both inside and outside the community of faith, might look at this model and know that God still lives and that the presence of God is always a presence for healing, for reconciliation, for justice, for peace, and for freedom.”

The future. Thirdly, “The Church is meant to be a servant to the world in doing all it can to narrow the gap between the kingdom-as-now-only-partly-begun and the full flowering of the kingdom. Part of the Church’s mission is to help set the world free of oppression and promote human development on all levels.” Pope John Paul II expressed the Church’s role of servant when he told the crowds at Boston Common, October 1, 1997, “I want to tell everyone that the Pope is your friend and the Servant of your Humanity.”

(The thoughts of Father Richard P. McBrien, conveyed here, were condensed from his Catholic Update: What Is the ‘Kingdom of God’? published by Franciscan Media).

Dear Friar Jim: I had just recently been contemplating the assumption of Mary and was curious about it. Then I open up my e-mail (the next day—literally) to see Friar Jack’s E-spirations on the assumption of Mary! How sweet is Mary, our mother? She truly cares for us, doesn’t she? Thank you for your part in her work. Gemma

A: Dear Gemma: Mary cares about us to a degree we can’t comprehend. She is a mother, and that’s what mothers do. With the Mother of Jesus, it’s a love beyond measure. Friar Jim

Dear Friar Jim: Many thanks for this wonderful article which I shall be sharing with most of my Christian friends. Keep up the good work. Anastasia

Dear Friar Jim: Your latest E-spiration was wonderful, as usual. I always learn something from your words, and they enrich my faith. I look forward to your next one! Deborah

A: Dear Anastasia and Deborah: Mary was not only Jesus’ mother, but she was and is the example of a perfect disciple. She teaches the most simple but powerful prayer by her words and her life: “Yes, Lord, yes.” Three one-syllable words—the most powerful prayer. Friar Jim