The kingdom of God for which our Lord lived and died is wonderfully exciting as it is historically elusive. The reign of the Spirit — in which everybody’s love and compassion is much needed and desired so that no one is left behind — is hardly felt in a world where pride and avarice continues to dominate.
If we yearn for a society where there is no hunger nor thirst, no doubt nor despair, no poverty and alienation simply because everybody are engaged in a collective responsibility to think and act in caring for others, then we must first of all, resolve that self-centeredness must no longer have a place in our minds and hearts.
Only then, will we all be assured of the decent life ultimately intended for us by God.
So, the realization of God’s kingdom carries with it the immense obligation to respond as we should, to offer with conviction and courage, the much better option of Christian love. Our mission as Church must be firmly grounded on the humble admission of our concupiscent nature, firmly formed to live a lifetime in penitential renewal, and firmly directed towards becoming illuminating witnesses and servants of God’s mercy to a world in pain.
Our Lord teaches us that there are two ways in which God’s kingdom will never come: Either we as the Church choose not to work for its actualization; or on the other hand, to work for its fruition, but claiming its achievement as our own.
The Gospel tells the story of the vineyard which was entrusted by its owner to the treacherous tenants. Note that their betraying action lies not in refusing to produce any valuable outcome, but in claiming the outcome for themselves. And it is upon this unjust claim that they conspired to kill the owner’s son.
When through our own efforts as Church, the kingdom yields its harvest of justice and righteousness, should we be the one to reap the glory and its rewards? Do we truly deserve it? When our civilization is slowly renewed in the goodness inspired by the Christ, then has the “time come to kill him”?
When the Church starts to think of itself as the fount of truth and charity as well as the cause for harmony and peace, and not as a human association of disciples willfully struggling to continuously learn and follow him who is the authentic source of all goodness, then we are “killing Jesus”.
When the Church starts to think of itself as an exclusive utopia only for the sinless, and not a corrective institution for the sinful, then we are “killing Jesus”.
When the Church starts to think of itself as the boastful pharisee “deserving of heaven”, rather than the tearful publican “hoping for heaven”, then we are killing “Jesus”.
The tasks of our prophetic service challenges us to be the voice of the Spirit, not to be our own voice; and to keep alive the memory of the Christ as the way to the Spirit who is our eternal destiny. If we must perish so that his glorious light may continue to burn for all generations, then so be it.
If we forget this, we would have committed a grave ecclesiological error. A proud church is a false church — it can and will never deserve its Master. He will surely find a way to replace it.
Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.