As I mentioned at Mass last week, I encourage everyone to participate in the National Day of Prayer and Fasting for our country on September 24, asking God to grant healing and mercy to our country and to grant conversion of our hearts. President Abraham Lincoln called on the people of our country to do this in the midst of the Civil War, and now appears to be an appropriate time to do it again. If your health permits it, I encourage you to fast from all food until dinner (or supper, as some may call it); refrain from unnecessary spending, particularly if it can be done on another day. Make extra time for prayer, and maybe even come pray before our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament if possible.
Continuing the initiative from the Diocese to pray for holy disciples during the month of September, we can reflect this week upon the question, “How can I become a better disciple?”
Continuing looking at the Lord's Prayer, we reflect upon the petition, “Thy kingdom come.” First, it's important to look into what a kingdom is. Typically, we think of a geographical location: the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Spain, the Kingdom of Naples, etc. The word “kingdom” comes from the Greek word “basileia” (βασιλεια). This Greek word could easily be translated as “royal nature” or “royalty.” This makes sense when thinking about the parables Jesus told, using images such as the Good Samaritan, the prodigal son and his father, a pearl, a hidden treasure, a mustard seed, a sower, a great banquet, and leaven to reveal and explain the basileia of God. Jesus isn't talking about a physical location; He is revealing who God is and what He is like! That's what this “royal nature” of God is all about—who He is!
The Gospel according to St. John tells us, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1:14).” The word for “Word” in this sentence is difficult to translate; it comes from the Greek word “logos (λογος).” Instead of Word, it could be translated as “logic.” The logic of God—the royal nature of God—did not remain abstract or ethereal; the logic and royal nature of God became incarnate, taking on human flesh and human nature. This is Jesus Christ. As Pope Benedict XVI, “we see that Jesus is the Kingdom of God in person.” It's important to repeat this: Jesus is the Kingdom of God in person. When we look at Jesus, we are looking at the Kingdom of God, which is love, peace, joy, generosity, patience, self-control, faithfulness, humility. This Kingdom is very different from the typical kingdoms of the world, which are often marked by violence, corruption, a thirst for power, division.
Jesus exhorts us to “seek first the Kingdom of God.” He is calling us to seek to be like Him, and so, when we pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” we are praying that Jesus enter more fully into our lives. We are praying that He may reign in our lives. We are praying that the royal nature of God—love, joy, humility, etc.—is the robe we wear. We are praying that this royal nature may reign not just in our lives, but in the entire world as well. As we pray for this, it is a reminder that while we don't build the Kingdom, we are meant to proclaim the Kingdom and advance it through our witness of life.
We are all saints under construction, seeking first and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. Have a great week!