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 What (Where?) Is the Kingdom of God? Part 1

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BeMyIcon
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PostSubject: What (Where?) Is the Kingdom of God? Part 1   Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:05 pm

I didn't want to post this huge article inside another thread,
so for now, I'll put this here for anyone who wants to read it.

I know...it's REALLY LONG,
and I really didn't read the whole thing, either.

But 47.5 asked a question, and I think this is my answer.
LOL.




What Is 'the Kingdom of God'?


By Richard P. McBrien

There was a time when the word kingdom—like fellowship and ministry—was viewed by many Catholics as belonging to the Protestants and, hence, as being less than center stage in the Catholic tradition. Many Catholics even today, therefore, may be surprised to learn that the Kingdom of God is at the heart and center of Jesus' preaching.

If they were asked to summarize the point and purpose of Jesus' life, they would not likely put the accent on his proclamation of the Kingdom. Instead, they would say that he came "down" from heaven to pay the price of our sins and then went back "up" to heaven after the Resurrection. They might add that we have the Church to keep alive the teachings and instructions of Jesus and to make available the treasury of grace which he won on Calvary.

But Jesus did not come among us primarily to establish the Church. His main mission was to promote and manifest the Kingdom of God. He entered our midst to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is close at hand (Mark 1:15), to call us to conversion and repentance (Luke 10:13-15; Matthew 11:20-24; Luke 13:1-5, 19:41-44), and to urge us to be watchful and ready for the Kingdom (Luke 12:35-40; Matthew 25:1-13).

What is this Kingdom of God that so preoccupied Jesus? Certainly not a kingdom in the worldly sense. "My Kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36), Jesus insisted.

The word kingdom nevertheless does have something to do with power and authority. Even in ordinary human conversation we give it that meaning. "Don't interfere with Mrs. Wilson's operation," a new employee might be advised. "That's her kingdom." What the warning means is that Mrs. Wilson's will reigns supreme in a given sector of an office. What she says goes. Anyone who tries to do things in a different way will have to contend with her.

The Kingdom of God has a similar meaning. It exists wherever God's will is at work. And God's will is at work wherever people are faithful to the command that we love one another as God first loved us.

But we know that we can only love when God, who is Love, is present to us. One "who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" (1 John 4:16). The God of Love empowers us to love. Therefore, the Kingdom of God is present whenever God's power is making love, reconciliation and healing possible.

The Kingdom Is 'God's Redemptive Presence'

We can define the Kingdom of God as the redemptive presence of God. This redemptive (or saving) presence of God can be found in everyday personal experiences. Whenever people love one another, forgive one another, bear one another's burdens, work to build up a just and peaceful community—wherever people are of humble heart, open to their Creator and serving their neighbor—God's redemptive and liberating presence is being manifested. God's Kingdom and loving rule is in operation there.

Jesus indicated this when he told the crowds, "Happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.... Happy are those who are persecuted in the cause of right; theirs is the Kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3, 10). God's redemptive presence is surely at work in them.

In a sense, the word redemptive is unnecessary in our definition because God's presence is redemptive of its very nature and the Kingdom of God is in reality God—God insofar as God is present and at work in the created order.

Because there is no limit to the presence of God, the Kingdom of God has no boundaries. The Kingdom may exist in the individual human heart, in groups, in institutions, in nature and in the cosmos as a whole. The Kingdom of God is as broad and as overarching as the presence of God which renews and transforms and recreates everything touched by it.

Not Just for the Future

And just as there is no limit to the spatial boundaries of the Kingdom, so there are no limits to its temporal boundaries. The Kingdom is not just for the future. It is not to be identified only with heaven, in other words. 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.

But God has not just begun to be, nor just begun to act on our behalf. The presence and power of God have been manifested from the beginning, from the moment of creation itself. Insofar as God has always been at work breathing life and movement into the world, the Kingdom of God has a past as well as a present and a future dimension. The Kingdom of God broke in upon us in a decisive way, of course, in Jesus Christ.

As the Second Vatican Council put it: "In Christ's word, in his works, and in his presence this Kingdom reveals itself to us....Before all things. . . the Kingdom is clearly visible in the very person of Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, who came 'to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many' (Mark 10:45)" (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #5).

The Church Proclaims the Kingdom

This threefold dimension (past, present, future) of the Kingdom of God shapes the mission of the Church which, according to Vatican II, "has a single intention: that God's Kingdom may come..." (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, #45).

The past. The mission of the Church is, first, to proclaim that the Kingdom of God has already come, and most definitively in Jesus Christ. The Church proclaims this conviction through its various 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, for freedom, and so forth.

The Church "becomes on earth the initial budding forth of that Kingdom" (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #5), for by its relationship with Christ, "the Church is a kind of sacrament or sign of intimate union with God, and of the unity of all humankind. It is also an instrument for the achievement of such union and unity" (#1).

The future. Thirdly, the Church is "like an arrow sent out into the world to point to the future," to use the famous phrase of Jurgen Moltmann in his Theology of Hope. The Church is to focus the eyes, the mind and the heart of the world on what yet lies ahead, upon that promised Kingdom where God "will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things will have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).

And, more than that, 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 that Kingdom. Part of the Church's mission in the unfolding of the Kingdom 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 as servant when he told the crowds at Boston Common, October 1, 1979, "I want to tell everyone that the Pope is your friend and the servant of your humanity."

In summary then, the Church is meant to be:

1. a proclaimer of the Kingdom of God already begun;

2. a sign revealing God's Kingdom or redemptive presence now;

3. a servant of the continuous unfolding of the Kingdom.

The Church fills this last role by acting on behalf of the poor, the oppressed, the despised and the persecuted as Jesus did and as he instructed us to do as his disciples (Matthew 5:1-12).

Whether or not we ourselves enter the final Kingdom will be determined by our response to the neighbor in need. Those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger and comfort the sick are those who inherit the Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46), thus manifesting God's redemptive presence on this earth.
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47.5

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PostSubject: Re: What (Where?) Is the Kingdom of God? Part 1   Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:13 pm

BeMyIcon wrote:
oh dear God
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PostSubject: Re: What (Where?) Is the Kingdom of God? Part 1   Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:14 pm

47.5 wrote:
oh dear God



I KNOW.

LOL.


Just skim a little...I think the first little bit covers what I'm talking about.
I think "you guys" agree, too...
Smile
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PostSubject: Re: What (Where?) Is the Kingdom of God? Part 1   Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:23 pm

ok, agreed. very well written (whoever wrote that) ... however I do not like the ending where it says "whether or not we ourselves enter the final Kingdom will be determined by our response to the neighbor in need." i get it... but i think more should have been added on the faith issue... because again, it is faith that gets you into heaven, not works. works are a product of faith. the golden rule is a rule of this world and their defined "morals"... you can be the nicest person in the world but faith is the stepping stone into heaven no matter what.

EDIT : Because i can see your rebuttal... i am not saying that God may not chose to bring those who do good works, and who are the nice people of the world, to heaven : that is His call. i am merely saying that if you have God in your heart, you should be doing those works. it blows my mind someone who talks with God and proclaims Him and His word but then would walk by someone in need.
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PostSubject: Re: What (Where?) Is the Kingdom of God? Part 1   Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:25 pm

POP*ICON wrote:
it blows my mind someone who talks with God and proclaims Him and His word but then would walk by someone in need.


What?

We do it ALL THE TIME.
We don't give money or food to EVERY SINGLE person who needs it.
We don't stick up for someone who is being wronged every time.
We do it every time we complain about how hot it is,
and turn up the air conditioning.
How many starving kids do we support?
We do it every time we buy something made in China.

The list goes on and on and on.

But also:
We do it by voting Republican and supporting a candidate
who will continue to slaughter God's children in Afghanistan,
and we do it by voting Democrat and supporting those
who are in favor of abortion.

Maybe you mean "physically" walking.
But you're going to walk right up to that booth in November
and give a war-loving candidate your "vote" / your support, right?

Sorry if this sounds off-topic, but I don't feel it is.
I'm so ****ing sick of politics and the government.
****!
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