Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Mining" For The Kingdom of God Within Us

Yesterday's blog entry focused on the "gushing goodness of God" and how it is meant to well up from within our lives, relationships, and our world. Today's Gospel from Mass gives us the opportunity to explore how to "receive" the gift of God's goodness (i.e., the Kingdom of God) or to "extract" the gift by "mining" for it deep within.

Jesus tells the disciples in so many words that the Kingdom isn't a socio-political agenda, nor someone who comes riding in on a white horse with the answers to all our problems, and is certainly not some "thing" that falls into our lap. As a matter of fact, the Kingdom of God is not observable at all! What is this "mercurial" (meaning impossible to hold on to) Kingdom anyhow?

In other places in the Gospels Jesus compares the Kingdom to a "mustard seed" that grows secretly and unassumingly, or leaven that works it's way invisibly through a batch of flour, or a "pearl of great price" that someone stumbles across in an empty field. While we cannot precisely and in a "categorical" way identify the Kingdom, this much can be said: it is a symbol of the utter-gratiuty and largesse of a God who in a very gentle, humble, unassuming way desires to surprise, delight, and partner with us in enhancing the good and "putting right" all that has gone so horribly wrong with our lives and world. The Kingdom of God, at bottom, is about the total transformation of all that is into all that can and should be. It is the sacrament of a God who refuses to be deterred or thwarted in the faith, hope, and dreams that he has for a world in which everything and everyone flourishes and pulses with abundant, and even ecstatic life.

You may be wondering at this point, "where can I get some of THAT!" (At least I hope you are :) There's a saying in Christian theology/spirituality that the Kingdom is both gift and task. In a general sense, the Kingdom is "gift" because it is God's very self. Karl Rahner, a great theologian of the last century couldn't have put it more succinctly when he said, "the Giver is himself the Gift." But if the "Giver", as mentioned before, is gentle, humble, and unassuming, than the Giver has to be sought out, and the "Gift" sometimes has to be "extracted" from deep within. This isn't because God is an ogre who gives begrudgingly but, rather, because the embrace of the "Gift" is an embrace of a person who is imminently personal. This implies it can only be fully received and can only fully well up from within when it is accepted and embraced in personal freedom. In other words, the welling up of the "Gift" is commensurate to our achievement of personhood and freedom.

There is so much in our lives and world that we have to "mine" through in order to fully "release" the Kingdom within. Many of us grapple with shame, failure, brokenness of one kind or another, hopes dashed, wounded self-esteem, etc... Our world suffers from systems that oppress, enslave, and from human-made or natural calamities that cause untold suffering. The promise of today's Gospel is that if we are willing to "roll up our sleeves" and bend low, God will never cease to be right alongside us helping us to "dig deep" within to extract the "pearl of great price" that is the divine heart of our lives and world. Pat, TOR


Michael Gormley said...

Great POST!!

God bless you.