17th Sun [A] 2008

Fr. Charles Irvin

1 Kings 3:5,7-12; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52

The kingdom of God was always on the mind of Jesus. There are about 150 references to God’s kingdom in the New Testament, 52 of them in St. Matthew’s Gospel alone. It seems that the more Jesus spoke of the kingdom the more otherworldly it seemed to be. Perhaps that’s because in an insanely self-centered world, sanity seems unrealistic.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus called it a hidden treasure, a box filled with golden coins hidden somewhere in a farmer’s field, a jewel found by an astute businessman who sold everything he owned in order to buy it. Elsewhere Jesus spoke of the kingdom as a fishing net filled with fish both good and bad. He called it leaven, light, salt and seed. He called it a ripe harvest, a royal feast, and wedding banquet, and so forth.

But what is the kingdom in everyday terms? What is it in the life we live out this week, next month, next year?

Some think the kingdom is a remote and distant heaven that follows our life here on earth. Others think it is an ideal political and economic system. Some think it is exclusively God’s business; some think the kingdom is only within the Church.

But what IS the kingdom of God? When did it start? Where did it come into being?

The answer is found in the beginning of things. In their genesis God divided light from darkness. Then God divided the land from the waters of the earth. Then He made the earth fertile so that it would grow living things. Then He made the oceans, rivers and lake teem with fish. The air He filled with birds and the ground with animals of all kinds.

Then as things evolved God made the likes of you and me. He took the face of a man and then of a woman between His hands, bent their faces back, and blew into them the breath of life saying, “Live! Live you man, live you woman, live as I live. I place you as my agents over all the earth I have made. Have life. Increase life. Give my life to your children.”

Where is the kingdom of God? Jesus tells us it is here on earth; here as it is in heaven. The kingdom is in us as God has made us. It is in human life, that sacred space in which lives the very Spirit of God, the very life of God. That is where it started; that is where it is now.

God’s kingdom is discovered and made real in doing God’s will. It is realized in God’s desire for our life, a quality, joy-filled life in you and in those He has put into your life.

Whenever we pray the Lord’s Prayer we pray: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth…” God’s will is nothing else but our well-being and happiness. God’s will is realized in living a healthy human life. The kingdom of heaven is here on earth, in high quality human life.

Jesus was recognized and acknowledged as the Son of God because people saw in Him that divine purpose and God’s divine will in the life Jesus lived.

Stop being deaf, Jesus cried. Listen! Stop being blind. Search and see. Stop being crippled. It’s no good to live a paralyzed life. Move, change, and act. Stop being mute. Speak about what is good, what is beautiful, and what is true! Speak God’s mind and purpose; speak God’s will.

When Jesus encountered the widow of Nain with her only child and now dead son, and when He was taken into the room of the dead daughter of Jairus, and when He wept at the tomb of His dead friend Lazarus, He cried out: “Come forth! Get up! Live!” He cried out with the same voice and word of God that in the beginning brought forth everything out of nothing and life out of inert matter. It was God our Creator’s voice calling us through His incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, to live.

Jesus gave life; He restored life; He required life, He calls us to life. He lived life with prostitutes, adulterers, outcasts, widows, and He does so today. He lives today in street people, in the homeless, and in migrants. He is present in everyone you meet today, no matter how badly those around you have disfigured and disguised His presence.

Jesus changed Zacchaeus, that greedy, grasping, mean little man who sat on his piles of money. Zacchaeus became prodigally generous, insanely generous, as generous as God is generous.

Jesus detested injustice; He hated unfairness; He was revolted by sickness, deformity and disease. He set His face against oppressors. When the Prince of Darkness, our Ancient Enemy and the Father of Lies tempted Him to do things other than in God’s ways, He stood His ground. When Pilate condemned Him, Jesus stood in simple silence, grounded as He was in His Father’s kingdom.

We must all ask ourselves whether we are living in God’s kingdom. Do we sacrifice our comfort and convenience for the sake of those around us? Does our work add value to the value of human life around us? Do our choices, our attitudes, and our decisions contribute to the well being of those around us? Do we give life and add to life, or do we drain it out of others? Do we give joy to others, or do we ignore them or even cause them unhappiness?

If you are a savvy businessperson you will invest in that which will last, and in that which others value in you. If you are a savvy businessperson you will serve your customers and they, in turn, will reward you. God’s own personal investment was in the humanity of Jesus Christ. In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God invested us with his Holy Spirit, His very own life. He wants us to live His life in our everyday life, something that is of infinitely more value than anything this world can offer you.

If you know how to invest, then make this investment. God has made a risk-capital investment in you. Why can’t you do the same for God? If you do, you will live a happy, high-quality life because you will be doing God’s will, and you will have a very valuable life in His kingdom.

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”