Our readings today deal with God’s kingdom come in Christ. Ezekiel sees His coming as a tiny sprout God plants in the earth that becomes a great tree of life. The gospel has the same image of the tiny seed that grows into huge shrub under which birds rest. We are the birds resting under Christ’s branches and those of his church. Lets confess ways we fail in this loyalty…
Recently, I watched the Queen giving her state of the Union address, and thought “kings, queens and kingdoms haven’t a great record on these islands”. We once had monarchs in Ireland, the High kings. But like all the things of the world they faded away and failed. One kingdom that will never fade, however, is Gods deeper perfect kingdom in Christ. For unlike human kingdoms its universal, eternal, peaceful and timeless; its citizens include the living and the dead. As Christ said to Pilate, He come into the world as king yet is not of the world. In its mystic aspect his kingdom is all good people who do what’s right. In its bodily aspect, the church, it crosses all borders and includes all races and nations. The varied languages and colors of people at the Eucharistic Congress mass in Dublin recently reminded me of that.
We belong to that great universal kingdom of grace and peace and truth in Christ. It started from a tiny seed and has grown into a mighty tree, under which all peoples rest, find light and are saved. For its focus isn’t worldly power but God’s truth. The apostles went out at Pentecost to set it up in answer to Christ’s command: ” go teach all nations baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit”. That its from God is proved by the fact that it has gathered a universal harvest of souls since.
We’re priveleged in Ireland since Patrick to be citizens of that Kingdom. But with priveleges goes responsibilities. As promised at baptism, the key to the kingdom, we have to build it on earth. Through prayer and holiness lets bring it to full harvest so that God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven. For thats the Kingdom’s aim, a fallen world redeemed.
We celebrate Father’s day at this time and parents in the home have a huge role in building this just kingdom. In the Our Father we pray “thy kingdom come”. But it won’t come without our help. Christ needs our hands to build his kingdom here where we are. We are the kingdom as practicing members of the local church through baptism and confirmation. For the kingdom is mere froth if it isn’t incarnated in the here and now, in structures we can see and touch. The Word has to be made flesh in the church.
Nowadays the failings of the church deter some from this great task, but we musnt throw out the baby with the bathwater. Despite flaws, its human as well as divine, the risen lord is in it. So hang in there, active members of the party structure as it were, canvassing for it, not just passive card-holders. For in its deeper aspects the church is the life of the world. As Paul says in its mystic aspect its the glory of God shining from the face of Jesus. Seeing beyond the church’s human flaws to this glory is wisdom. Seeing it as an istrument of victory over sin, death and evil in Christ. If we bring the seed of the Kingdom to a great harvest by our charity, when Christ comes again He’ll say to us “well done good and faithful servant”. For this world’s kingdoms of which Satan is lord pass and leave us empty within at last, but Christ is Lord of love, grace, and salvation for this world and forever and ever, amen. So as God’s own, serving his kingdom with all our hearts, we profess our faith.
Prayers of the faithful
And as God’s people lets pray for what we need..
For leaders of the church throughout the world, may they serve the kingdom of God and bring all to its fullness in Christ..
For civil leaders that in serving their own kingdom of earthly power and glory they may not put any obstacles in the way of the growth of the kingdom of God in the world..
For young people that they may see beyond the passing kingdoms of this world of which Satan is lord to the deeper and more enduring Kingdom of God in Christ, and remain true and practicing members of that holy church, its frail embodiment..
For ourselves in our homes, workplaces and communities that we may be witnesses to the kingdom of God,and bring its eternal riches to our children, and all we come into contact with..
For the sick, the ages and the lonely that through our love and care they may know the consolations of God’s healing Kingdom.
For the dead that they may come to the final kingdom prepared for them since the foundation of the world helped by our powerful communal prayers as the body of Christ..
We ask these prayers through Christ our Lord, to whom belongs the Kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever, amen.
Kerry is called “The Kingdom”. Apparently it belonged to a ancient kingdom that was centred in the Southern area of Ireland. When Kerry played Cork recently in Gaelic football I marvelled at the fervour of its supporters. The same is true of the devotees of English soccer clubs. They wear the jerseys with pride; and many have banners saying, “keep the faith”. We should be as fervent in serving the Kingdom of God and wear our baptismal garment proudly unto death. We pray to Mother Mary the mother of the church to make us true in this, unto the great eternal All Ireland or Premiership Cup in Heaven..Hail Mary