Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

THURSDAY HOMILY: You Are Not Far From the Kingdom of God

By Deacon Keith Fournier
June 6th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In today's Gospel from St. Mark, Jesus encounters a sincere scribe. The passage offers us  an insight into the Kingdom of God and our own role in spreading its influence. Jesus has inaugurated the Kingdom. Jesus is the Kingdom.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In today's Gospel from St. Mark, Jesus encounters a sincere scribe. The passage offers us  an insight into the Kingdom of God and our own role in spreading its influence:

"One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?" Jesus replied, "The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he.

And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." And no one dared to ask him any more questions."  (Mk. 12:28-34)

The kind of all consuming, single minded, all encompassing love for God offered in the response of the Scribe is what Jesus affirmed. It is also the key which opens the door to living now in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus had compassion for this man of good will. His responseto him  was "You are not far from the kingdom of God." What popped off the page to me today was that the truth behind the statement was logistical  - as well as ontological.

Jesus has inaugurated the Kingdom.

The Catholic Catechism explains "To carry out the will of the Father Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth." Now the Father's will is "to raise up men to share in his own divine life". He does this by gathering men around his Son Jesus Christ. This gathering is the Church, "on earth the seed and beginning of that kingdom". (CCC #541)

Jesus is the Kingdom.

This Scribe was standing right in front of Him. He was literally and physically not far from the Kingdom. All it took to live in that Kingdom was to embrace the King. The inquiry of this Scribe echoes throughout time as men and women experience the travail unleashed by man's separation from God. The effects are within us and around us. That separation is the result of sin. It can only be healed through a Savior.

The Good News, which is what the word Gospel means, is that the Father has sent just such a Savior! That Savior, Jesus Christ, has inaugurated the Kingdom.

We know that what we witness around us, and experience within us, often does not reflect Gods loving plan for the human race. We long for the fullness of His Kingdom. With His response to the scribe Jesus affirms that the Kingdom is a present reality. He instructs us concerning our vocation as disciples to the spread of the kingdom - within us, among us, and in the world.

We can spread the kingdom by living in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world.

There, living in His Body, we continue His redemptive mission and advance the spread and influence of the Kingdom. Our membership in the Church is a participation in the life of God; what the Apostle Peter referred to as a "participation in the Divine nature". (2 Peter 1:4)

It is thereby a participation in the kingdom of which the Church is both a seed and sign. In one of its numerous and rich expositions of the mystery of the kingdom, the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

"It was the Son's task to accomplish the Father's plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its accomplishment was the reason for his being sent. "The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures." To fulfill the Father's will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church "is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery." (CCC #763)

Through our Baptism the Church becomes our home, our mother, the place in which we now live our lives in Christ.  We are sons and daughters of the Church. In living our lives in her we carry forward in time the continuing redemptive mission of Jesus Christ who is the Head of His Body and make the Kingdom present now.
 
In its treatment of this mystery of the Church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

"To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood."(CCC #845)

We are called to live in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world. We are on a mission to bring the world, through Christ, into the New World of His Church, the seed and sign of the coming kingdom. Again, the Catechism expresses it wonderfully in passages such as these:

"To carry out the will of the Father Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth." Now the Father's will is "to raise up men to share in his own divine life". He does this by gathering men around his Son Jesus Christ. This gathering is the Church, "on earth the seed and beginning of that kingdom".

"Christ stands at the heart of this gathering of men into the "family of God". By his word, through signs that manifest the reign of God, and by sending out his disciples, Jesus calls all people to come together around him. But above all in the great Paschal mystery - his death on the cross and his Resurrection - he would accomplish the coming of his kingdom. "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." Into this union with Christ all men are called. (CCC #541b, 542)

"The kingdom of heaven was inaugurated on earth by Christ. "This kingdom shone out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ" (LG 5). The Church is the seed and beginning of this kingdom. Its keys are entrusted to Peter. (CCC #567)

"Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus' word: The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest." (CCC #543)

In Jesus Christ, the Kingdom has been inaugurated. We are members of the Body of Christ which also makes this kingdom present as seed and sign in a world which is in labor. We are a people on mission in a world waiting to be fully liberated from the bondage of sin.

Our mission is to bring all men and women into the Body of the Savior which is the seed of His Kingdom.

As with all seeds, this Church has the entire genetic composition of what it will be within it. The Kingdom will be manifested in its fullness when Jesus returns as King to "make all things new".  (Rev. 21:5) Yet, it begins right now as we live our lives in Him as a seed and sign of that Kingdom. 

I conclude with another passage from the Catechism: "The whole Church is apostolic, in that she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin: and in that she is "sent out" into the whole world."

"All members of the Church share in this mission, though in various ways. "The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well." Indeed, we call an apostolate "every activity of the Mystical Body" that aims "to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth." (CCC#863)

You - and I - are not far from the Kingdom. Jesus is in our midst.The Kingdom has come, is coming, and will come. Let us hasten its advance. 

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)