Friday, July 1, 2016
The Reign of God is Within Us!
“What is the reign of God like? The reign of God is that sacred space where everyone loves everyone else unconditionally, where everyone dwells in peace, where everyone acts in perfect nonviolence, where everyone is happy, where everyone rejoices because they are in the presence of God—most of all, where everyone loves and worships the living God with all their being.
The reign of God is within us, among us, and far away from us all at the same time. It is right here in front of us, and it is nowhere near us. It is the spiritual experience of inner peace and perfect unconditional love, but it is also an eschatological existence, the heavenly place where God lives, where we shall one day live with God. It is that space of vulnerability, innocence, wonder, peace, and joy that children know. It is the presence of our Lord Jesus. It is life." (From: The Questions of Jesus by John Dear)
“Jesus sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go.” In the Gospel of this Sunday, Jesus is sending the disciples to the towns and villages before him to prepare the way. What a great opportunity for his followers to be entrusted with the message that the Kingdom of God is at hand! However, there are a few “guidelines” in the Disciples’ Handbook that they are to practice:
• Ask “the God of the harvest” to call up more disciples to assist with this mission to preach the Good News that the kingdom is here!
• Be cautious – it is hazardous work – you can often feel like a lamb among wolves!
• Travel light – carry no GPS, no iPad, no Smart phone, no extra equipment; Remember - YOU are the equipment!
• Greet no one on the way. This is a help to keep you from being distracted from your purpose. In other words, minimize your social networking!
• Enter a home with a greeting of PEACE! It is always helpful to make a good first impression.
• Eat what is placed before you – no “global whining” allowed. Have an attitude of gratitude.
• Don’t move from house to house – be content with the gift of what is.
• Cure the sick – and tell them, “God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep!” Remember, it is God working in and through you. Keep your ego out of the way!
• If you are not received, shake off the dust of the town from your feet and move on. Try not to hold a grudge. Maybe they were not ready for the message – but keep the experience as a source of learning and as a container of new wisdom for yourself.
In the quote from John Dear, sj, he writes that the kingdom of God is a space of vulnerability. I’m sure all of us can lean back into our life experiences and recall a vulnerable moment or two. I recently listened to a TED Talk by Brene’ Brown on the power of vulnerability. Yes, there is power in vulnerability. She states that for vulnerability to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, and that vulnerable people:
• live from a wholeheartedness – a worthiness – a sense of courage
• tell who they are with their hearts
• are compassionate, kind to self and then able to be compassionate toward others
• live a life which connects to others and the world; they live with authenticity
• they let go of who they thought they should be
• live with believing that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful
• live with a willingness to accept that there are no guarantees in life
Her final bit of advice to those willing to be vulnerable is:
• Let yourself be seen; love with your whole heart even with no guarantees
• Practice gratitude and joy in all moments, especially vulnerable moments
• Believe that you’re enough! Then you are kinder to yourself and to others
Returning to the Gospel, the disciples had to move into this space of vulnerability to prepare the way for the Good News! So let us all pray to the “God of the harvest” this week to give us the grace we need to be seen as whole hearted as we live with struggle, pain, uncertainties, imperfections, ambiguities, and the learnings of life.
Let us gain courage that the reign of God “is within us, among us, and far away from us all at the same time.” May we all live with knowing that we are enough, that we are impacted by what we do and are to each other, and that what makes us beautiful is our vulnerability!!