17th Sunday of the Year (A) 2017

Again today Jesus of Nazareth is trying to get across to me what the Kingdom of Heaven is. What it is like.

Imagine the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven as a very happily married couple who are comfortably well off with one child. They appreciate how blessed and lucky they are and want to share this blessedness and good fortune with others, both people and things. They adopt a child and another and another. They get a dog and a cat and maybe a canary.

They look after and share their good fortune with all these things. They love all these things and treat them as their own, as their family. They make provision in their will for all their family.

The kingdom of God always existed. Everything that ever existed, that exists now and that will exist in the future is part of the Kingdom of God. In other words the whole of creation belongs in the Kingdom of God.

This fact was not known and was not knowable to creation until evolution produced human beings who were sentient and self aware. Then God became a human being called Jesus of Nazareth who made us aware of the Kingdom of God. Who make us aware that we and the whole of creation were part of God’s family and were loved and cherished by God as such.

Our lives and the whole of creation were no longer encompassed by the words birth, life and death. Rather I should think of my existence as firstly; conception/creation. Secondly; physical, mental and spiritual growth and understanding. Thirdly; Glorification into the consciously visible, tactile and experiential reality of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven (which are one and the same thing) is mentioned 93 times in the New Testament.

I often think of death as the gateway into the Kingdom of God. This is not so. I already live in the Kingdom of God. What I call death is gaining the ability to see, hear, touch and experience, first hand, the Kingdom of God. My present body (a product of the evolutionary process) must be discarded and replaced with a glorified body. (To quote Jesus of Nazareth: ‘Truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.’) Only then can I see, hear, touch and experience the reality in which I already live – the Kingdom of God.

Speaking in metaphor Jesus described the latter as follows; ‘In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? …. I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.’

What we call death is the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth to take me to his Father’s house.

And St. Paul tells us; ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.’

The above may give me some degree of comfort, of acceptance, when my thoughts turn to death, as they inevitably do. As time passes, it may somewhat lessen my sense of loss and grief at the death of a loved one. We are all in, and part of, the Kingdom of God – those of us who already see and hear and those of us who are awaiting the opening of our eyes and ears.