The Business “at Hand”

12 Jul

In the readings at Mass this week, we’re hearing quite a bit about the “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of heaven” as Our Lord builds His Church. It’s not something far away, we hear, but “at hand” (Mt. 10:7).

I’ve found that the “proclamation of the Kingdom” as a mystery of the Rosary provides vast opportunities for meditating upon the Gospel. Jesus’ entire public ministry comes within its purview, as it provides a crucial and expansive bridge between the Infancy and Passion narratives.

Yet, the proclamation of the Kingdom in some ways is the most intensely personal and focused mystery. Jesus’ words, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15), apply specifically to each one of us and demand a daily response of faith (cf. Lk. 9:23). This mystery points to our own liberation from sin and our acceptance of the sublime gift of divine sonship (cf. Gal. 4:4-7), a gift that far exceeds our wildest dreams.

Here the various extraordinary signs Our Lord used—and through His Church continues to use—to manifest His Kingdom and strengthen our faith come into play.

Miracles that we can see with our own eyes grab our attention. Jesus performed many such sensational signs–curing the sick, expelling demons, feeding the multitudes, and even raising the dead. In today’s Gospel, He gives this power, this authority, to His newly chosen Apostles. Still, Christ did not come to make us “ooh” and “aah” in amazement. Nor did He come as merely a social worker extraordinaire to rid the world of all suffering, hardship, and injustice, even as He calls all His followers to help renew the face of the earth and transform the temporal order through our own works of mercy (cf. Mt. 25:31-46).

Rather, He came to work a far greater miracle. He came “to free men from the greatest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage” (Catechism, no. 549). Other miracles are but signs that point us to this more profound reality.

The miracle of our redemption carried a hefty price tag. As St. Peter says, we were ransomed from the futile ways of our fathers by means of the precious blood of Christ, the lamb that was slain (1 Pet. 1:18-20). The critically acclaimed film The Passion of the Christ magnificently—and graphically— depicts the intense sufferings Our Lord endured for us so that we might truly become children of God.

We need the eyes of faith to see and appreciate the gift of eternal life as adopted sons and daughters of God and heirs of heaven, a gift that God in His loving providence has marvelously interwoven into the fabric of our own personal histories.

May we meditate frequently upon this miracle of grace that is being worked within us even now. Yes, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!

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