From the Parish House

The world is full of the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.  By any standard Queen Elizabeth was an extraordinary woman with an incredible sense of duty and an unfailing commitment to her responsibilities as Queen.  We should commend her to God and pray that she truly rests in peace after a long and fruitful life.

The death of a monarch makes me think about the way in which the gospels use the image of the Kingdom of God to talk about the ministry of Jesus.  The Kingdom of God is one of those phrases that appears many times in the gospel.  Jesus tells his followers that the Kingdom of God is close at hand when sinners are forgiven, when the poor are welcomed to the table, when the sick are embraced, when the lost are found and the downtrodden are set free.  The Kingdom of God is the expression used in the gospels to relay God’s vision or dream for the whole world.  Jesus came to proclaim the Kingdom.  Theologian John Fuellenbach has written more about this topic than anyone else.  He claims, rightly, that Jesus preached the Kingdom not the Church.  The first priority of Jesus’ ministry was to open up to all of humanity the loving forgiveness, compassion and healing power of God.  The Church exists only in the service of the Kingdom of God.  The Church exists as the sacrament or sign of the presence of God in the world.  The Church therefore should go about saying and doing the things that announce and bring about the Kingdom of God.

This Sunday’s gospel is the story of the prodigal son.  In this story we learn more about God’s dream for humanity.  God does not hold grudges.  God welcomes back all who turn to God in humility and sincerity.  God gives human beings second chances.  This is the good news of the Kingdom that is so often in contrast to the payback and unforgiving nature of much of our culture.  At the same time, we should be on the lookout for where the Kingdom of God is revealed in our world.  There are also many instances of heroic acts of love, bewildering acts of forgiveness, selfless acts of caring for the sick and dying and extraordinary examples of outreach to the poor and suffering.  All of these point to the Kingdom of God at work in our midst, both within and outside the Church.

Christians are called to have a heart for the things of the Kingdom.

Monarchs who are the head of a Church should inspire such things too.

By Fr Brendan Reed
Parish Priest


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