From the Catholic Liturgy for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time- Matthew 13:44-46: The Kingdom of Heaven. When Bible scholars examined the Gospels to discern the primary or recurring theme of Jesus' preaching, they discovered that the teachings on the “Kingdom of Heaven” (also called the "Kingdom of God") appears 99 times in the 4 Gospels; and 90 of these times it comes directly from the lips of Jesus! This HAS to grab our attention and cause us to reflect on what this means. After all, God himself has come in the flesh to live and walk and talk among us…so the Kingdom of God teaching must be of utmost importance for our salvation!
But what Is the Kingdom of God? What does this mean? Why is Jesus so insistent that we reach out and grasp it, that we do all in our power to enter into it? I think the answer is actually pretty simple because a kingdom is first of all, where the king lives! The Kingdom of God is the dwelling place and presence of God, the place where God is adored above all and his will is done for his glory and our happiness. The Kingdom of God is where love, justice, peace, mercy and compassion reign.
The Kingdom of God is supposed to be the motivating goal of our lives. The Kingdom of God is something so vital, so worthwhile and above anything else, that we would do anything to assure our part in it! The Kingdom of God is a precious discovery like a buried treasure. The Kingdom of God is a rare find worth giving up everything to possess, like the world’s finest pearl. This is what the parables in today’s Gospel are all about.
All who actively respond to Jesus’ invitation have the Kingdom of God within them by grace. The Holy Spirit comes to make them his dwelling place and God touches the lives of others through them, bringing justice, mercy, peace, compassion, love to the broken, the wounded, the needy. But this gift of the Kingdom is made possible for us only by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which we share in by Baptism. Jesus himself said that we cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless we are reborn by water and the Holy Spirit, which means the Sacrament of Baptism. And it is this new birth, this rebirth, that brings us a to new way of thinking, of living, and of loving as people of the Kingdom. It grows within us every time we receive the Body and Blood of the Lord with faith and devotion in Holy Communion.
Let’s remember that because the Kingdom of God is within us, we are way more beautiful than any basilica or temple of God, even St. Peter’s in Rome, because we are living and breathing shrines of the one True God, who wants to extend his kingdom of love, justice mercy and peace to every human heart through us, his Christian people, who strive the live the Gospel where they live, work and socialize.