December 10, 2000
volume 11, no. 257
The Holy Father's most recent Wednesday General Audience from December 6 for the THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS for the December 10, 2000 issue
And our reflection begins with Mark's Gospel where we read: "Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God: 'This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel"" (Mark 1:14-15). These are the first words that Jesus pronounced before the crowd: They contain the heart of His Gospel of hope and salvation, the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. As the evangelists note, from that moment on, "He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people" (Matthew 4:23; see Luke 8:1). The apostles and with them, Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, followed in His footsteps, called to "proclaim the Kingdom of God" in the midst of nations, as far as the capital of the Roman Empire (see Acts 20:25; 28:23.31).
With the Gospel of the Kingdom, Christ links himself to the sacred Scriptures, which, through the royal image, celebrate the lordship of God over the cosmos and history. Thus we read in the Psalter: "Say among the nations, The Lord is king! The world will surely stand fast, never to be moved. God rules the peoples" (Psalm 96:10). Therefore, the Kingdom is the effective but mysterious action that God carries out in the universe and in the tangle of human events. He conquers the resistance of evil with patience, not with overbearing force and clamor.
Because of this, Jesus compares the Kingdom to the grain of mustard, the smallest of all seeds, destined, however, to become a leafy tree (see Matthew 13:31-32), or to a seed that a man planted in the earth: whether "asleep or awake, during the night or day, the seed sprouts and grows; how, he himself does not know" (Mark 4:27). For us, the Kingdom is grace, love of God for the world, source of serenity and trust: "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock," Jesus says, "for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). Fears, anxieties, worries dissolve, because the Kingdom of God is in our midst in the person of Christ (see Luke 17:21).
3. However, man is not an inert witness of God's entry into history. Jesus invites us to "seek" actively "the Kingdom of God and His righteousness," and to make this quest our principal concern (Matthew 6:33). To those who "believed that the Kingdom of God would be manifested from one moment to the next" (Luke 10:11), He prescribed an active attitude instead of passive waiting, telling them the parable of the 10 servants who were given money to trade (see Luke 19:12-27). From his perspective, the apostle Paul declares that "the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness" (Romans 14:17), and he urgently invites the faithful to place their members at the service of righteousness with a view to sanctification (see Romans 6:13,19).
Therefore, the human person is called to cooperate with his hands, his mind, and his heart in the coming of the Kingdom of God in the world. This is especially true of those who are called to the apostolate and who are, as Paul says, "co-workers for the kingdom of God" (Colossians 4:11), but it is also true of every human person.
4. Those persons enter the Kingdom who have chosen the way of the evangelical beatitudes, living as "poor in spirit," detached from material goods, in order to raise the last of the earth from the dust of their humiliation. "Did not God choose those who are poor in the world," James asks himself in his Letter, "to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?" (James 2:5). Those enter the Kingdom who lovingly endure the sufferings of life: "'It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God'" (Acts 14:22; see 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5), where God Himself "will wipe every tear (...) and there shall be no more death or mourning, waiting or pain" (Apocalypse/Revelation 21:4). The pure of heart enter the Kingdom, who choose the way of righteousness, namely, of union with the will of God, as Paul admonishes: "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers ... nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; see 15:50; Ephesians 5:5).
5. All the righteous on earth, even those who do not know Christ and His Church and who, under the influence of grace, seek God with a sincere heart (see "Lumen Gentium," 16), are, therefore, called to build the Kingdom of God, cooperating with the Lord Who is the first and decisive architect. This is why we should entrust ourselves to His hands, His Word, His guidance, as inexperienced children who find security only in the Father: "Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child," Jesus said, "shall not enter it" (Luke 18:17).
We should make our invocation, "Thy Kingdom come!" with these thoughts in mind. An invocation that in the history of humanity has ascended so many times to heaven, as a great breath of hope: "May the peace of your Kingdom come to us," Dante exclaims in his paraphrase of the Our Father (Purgatory XI, 7). An invocation that directs our look to Christ's return and nourishes the desire of the final coming of the Kingdom of God. However, this desire does not withdraw the Church from her mission in this world, rather it gives her greater determination (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2818), in the hope of being able to cross the threshold of the Kingdom, of which the Church is the seed and beginning (see "Lumen Gentium," 5), when it will arrive in the world in its fullness. Then, Peter assures us in his Second Letter, "So there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:11). [Translation by ZENIT] ZE00120601
December 10, 2000
Return to Front Page of Current Issue