thy kingdom come

I'm still in Elkhart, but now that Andy and Nekeisha have come home I'm staying at their place. Their being away, though, allowed me to spend several enjoyable days at Emmaus house with Biff. We have a lot in common and had some long conversations.

One of the best ones had to do with the present reality of the kingdom of God. As I was looking at a Catholic Worker paper the day before, I noticed indignant protests against injustices, and frequent references to hopeful Old Testament promises. It made me think of the Israelites crying out from bondage in Egypt. And that's how I've often heard people praying "Thy kingdom come." As a cry for mercy. A cry that doesn't seem to be answered, if we look at the suffering around us.

Is God really withholding his kingdom from us, delaying his promises to his suffering people? Or is his kingdom being held back by the powers of this world: oppressive governments, global corporations, authoritarian religions? It would seem that way, from some of the sermons I hear and the diatribes I read...

But what of Jesus' proclamation: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand!" (Mk 1.15) Isn't that the "good news"? The long hoped-for moment, the release the Israelites cried out for?

Doesn't Jesus' announcement make any difference? He didn't mean it as just some internal attitude adjustment, or a salvation for souls only--someday. Jesus spoke in very concrete terms:

"Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life." (Mk 10.29-30)
And his life demonstrated the very physical reality of this. I read these lines again yesterday morning, sitting in a new house, with a new brother waiting for me downstairs.

The kingdom of God is not withheld from us. It is available to all who accept it as real and as a gift from God, the "pearl of great price" for which we are glad to sell everything we own (Mt 13.45-46). And we don't have to be privileged (socially, intellectually, economically) to experience it. To the privileged, Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." (Mt 21.28-31)

They're going in. Right now. We need not complain to God or blame the powerful for holding back God's kingdom. We need to joyfully accept Jesus' announcement, "The kingdom of God has come upon you" (Mt 12.28), and enter in.