April 27, 2021
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 87 which is both a celebration of and a longing for God’s Presence as symbolized for the psalmist in Jerusalem, Zion, the Temple.
His foundation upon the holy mountainsPsalm 87: 1-3
the LORD loves:
The gates of Zion,
more than any dwelling of Jacob.
Glorious things are said of you,
O city of God!
For the psalmist, who is in exile, Zion was the visible expression of God’s exclusive relationship with Israel – the longed-for Kingdom.
In our reading from Acts, the concept of God’s Kingdom takes a larger shape. Jewish Christians, scattered in persecution, began to share the Good News with Gentiles. Barnabas blesses this sharing. He and Paul spend a year in Antioch teaching these new Christians who will not have the same devotion to “Zion”.
So where is “the Kingdom” now?
Our Gospel shows us Jesus, walking in the Temple portico one winter morning. He stands amidst the very symbols extolled in Psalm 87. He points his listeners, who are still resistant, toward the only true “kingdom”, one he has described before:
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”Luke 17: 20-21
We know from the Beatitudes that the “kingdom of God” belongs to the poor and the persecuted:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven…..
……Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Perhaps there is a touch of biblical irony in the fact that our poor and persecuted psalmist, exiled from beautiful Zion, already possessed the “kingdom” within! But, without the benefit of Jesus’s teaching, it seems he didn’t realize it.
Do we realize it?
Prose: from Hans Küng
(For my spiritual reading recently , I returned to an old favorite Hans Küng, a revered Catholic priest and Vatican II theologian who died earlier this month. Word of his death took me back to my 1960s heady theology days.🙏😇)
Here are two relevant quotes to our thoughts on “the Kingdom” today:
The meaning of the church does not reside in what it is but in what it is moving towards. It is the reign of God which the church hopes for, bears witness to and proclaims.Hans Küng: The Church
The kingdom of God is creation healed.Hans Küng: On Being a Christian
Music: The Holy City, Jerusalem sung by Jessye Norman