Every Sunday we celebrate Christ’s victory over evil and sin. We might ask ourselves: what does the victory of Christ mean? What happened after His rising from the dead? Why does the world not have fewer wars or less violence? Has the Messiah repaired anything? Where is the kingdom of heaven which Jesus announced? Jesus preaches in Luke’s Gospel, “behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21). How is this possible? Are we really already in the kingdom of heaven?
In the same chapter of Luke, Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is not coming with signs that are easily noticeable (Luke 17:20). He is trying to teach us that the kingdom of heaven is discernible only by faith. While it is true that the external world has not visibly changed after Jesus’ resurrection – we still experience the consequences of sin – we believe, nevertheless, that the kingdom of heaven is among us. We can perceive God’s kingdom through our sense of faith though we cannot perceive it with our physical senses. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says to Nicodemus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). The same apostle writes in his epistle: “…no one who sins has either seen Him or known Him” (1 John 3:6).
We believe that at the end of time Jesus will come again in glory and at that time His reign will be obvious and discernible to everyone. This is indicated by Jesus’ words to Pilate: “My kingship is not of this world” (John 18:36). We see the same concept in the letter to the Hebrews: “Now in putting everything in subjection to Him, He left nothing outside his control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him” (Hebrews 2:8).
Perceiving the kingdom of heaven more and more clearly is a process that lasts throughout our entire lives. As we grow closer to God, we see more explicitly His mark on our lives. While He is close to us already, we more readily recognize Him in different ways: in relationships, in His Word, in the beauty and harmony of nature, and in many other ways that will be unique to each of us.
As hope leads us onward, we take refuge in Christ’s words: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
-Br. Andrzej Mońka, O.P.
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