Part of our role as Catholic Christians is to evangelize or spread the word of God. This blog, 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.” 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.”
Let’s look at the kingdom of God in the past, present, and future.
The past. Firstly, 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.”