Characteristics and demands of His Kingdom

Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the universe.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The Gospel passage proclaimed this Sunday, Solemnity of Christ the King, includes a fragment from the Passion according to St. John where Pilate asks the Lord if he is King. The answer the Lord gives is not direct, it makes reference to a Kingdom that belongs to him, which is not of this world.

The characteristics and demands of this Kingdom are progressively revealed by Jesus himself through his words, his works and his own self, as explained by St. John Paul II.

“The kingdom of God is meant for all mankind, and all people are called to become members of it. To emphasize this fact, Jesus drew especially near to those on the margins of society, and showed them special favor in announcing the Good News. At the beginning of his ministry he proclaimed that he was “anointed…to preach good news to the poor”. To all who are victims of rejection and contempt Jesus declares: “Blessed are you poor”. What is more, he enables such individuals to experience liberation even now, by being close to them, going to eat in their homes, treating them as equals and friends, and making them feel loved by God, thus revealing his tender care for the needy and for sinners.

The liberation and salvation brought by the kingdom of God come to the human person both in his physical and spiritual dimensions. Two gestures are characteristic of Jesus’ mission: healing and forgiving. Jesus’ many healings clearly show his great compassion in the face of human distress, but they also signify that in the kingdom there will no longer be sickness or suffering, and that his mission, from the very beginning, is meant to free people from these evils. In Jesus’ eyes, healings are also a sign of spiritual salvation, namely liberation from sin. By performing acts of healing, he invites people to faith, conversion and the desire for forgiveness. Once there is faith, healing is an encouragement to go further: it leads to salvation. The acts of liberation from demonic possession-the supreme evil and symbol of sin and rebellion against God-are signs that indeed “the kingdom of God has come upon you”.

The kingdom aims at transforming human relationships; it grows gradually as people slowly learn to love, forgive and serve one another. Jesus sums up the whole Law, focusing it on the commandment of love. Before leaving his disciples, he gives them a “new commandment”: “Love one another; even as I have loved you”. Jesus’ love for the world finds its highest expression in the gift of his life for mankind, which manifests the love which the Father has for the world. The kingdom’s nature, therefore, is one of communion among all human beings-with one another and with God.

The kingdom is the concern of everyone: individuals, society, and the world. Working for the kingdom means acknowledging and promoting God’s activity, which is present in human history and transforms it. Building the kingdom means working for liberation from evil in all its forms. In a word, the kingdom of God is the manifestation and the realization of God’s plan of salvation in all its fullness.

By raising Jesus from the dead, God has conquered death, and in Jesus he has definitely inaugurated his kingdom. During his earthly life, Jesus was the Prophet of the kingdom; after his passion, resurrection and ascension into heaven he shares in God’s power and in his dominion over the world. The resurrection gives a universal scope to Christ’s message, his actions and whole mission. The disciples recognize that the kingdom is already present in the person of Jesus and is slowly being established within man and the world through a mysterious connection with him…

The kingdom of God is not a concept, a doctrine, or a program subject to free interpretation, but it is before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God. If the kingdom is separated from Jesus, it is no longer the kingdom of God which he revealed. The result is a distortion of the meaning of the kingdom, which runs the risk of being transformed into a purely human or ideological goal, and a distortion of the identity of Christ, who no longer appears as the Lord to whom everything must one day be subjected.

Likewise, one may not separate the kingdom from the Church. It is true that the Church is not an end unto herself, since she is ordered toward the kingdom of God of which she is the seed, sign and instrument. Yet, while remaining distinct from Christ and the kingdom, the Church is indissolubly united to both. Christ endowed the Church, his body, with the fullness of the benefits and means of salvation. The Holy Spirit dwells in her, enlivens her with his gifts and charisms, sanctifies, guides and constantly renews her. The result is a unique and special relationship which, while not excluding the action of Christ and the Spirit outside the Church’s visible boundaries, confers upon her a specific and necessary role; hence the Church’s special connection with the kingdom of God and of Christ, which she has “the mission of announcing and inaugurating among all peoples.””

Fr. Roberto M. Cid