So, What's the Big Deal?

The Gospel of Thomas talks about the Kingdom of God...a lot.  In fact in saying 3, Jesus tells his disciples that the kingdom is within them and outside them.  But what is the kingdom anyway?  What would this have meant to his followers?  I don't think this saying is supposed to be just a feel good thing you can just nod and say yes..I am filled with God, and stop there.

The Jews of the 1st Century knew of several kingdoms. The kingdom of the Romans was seen as the kingdom of oppression, suppression and injustice.  In fact many emperors and kings throughout history have displayed these same tendencies. But there was also a hope and view of the messianic kingdom.  This kingdom is a kingdom of justice, of goodness, help for the widows and orphans, of peace.

I love what Richard P. McBrien says about the kingdom in his article, "What is the Kingdom of God?" (http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0980.asp)

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.

I believe that this is what the kingdom or reign of God is about.  It is not something that allows us to rest on our laurels and pat God on the back while doing nothing.  It is not just a sweet theological concept that we that acts like some feel good theological masturbation.  The Kingdom of God has to be made manifest, in ourselves, out communities and our world.  We have to love our neighbor.  We have to stand for the oppressed.  We have to care for the poor.

The Gospel of Thomas is a fun exciting text, in which the King (God) calls us his son's and daughters.  But we are not called to be spoiled royals who care nothing about those we imagine separate from us and outside of us.  We are called to the highways and byways.  We are called to guard our brothers and sisters like the pupil of our eyes.  We are called to make the Kingdom manifest.  It is here...but we are the ones to make it manifest!  So, what is the big deal about the Kingdom of God?  Your brothers and sisters are suffering.  The world is crushed under the weight of injustice.  The big deal is for you and I to make it manifest in our world around us. Today.

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