The kingdom of Heaven or the Reign of God is compared to many things. In today’s Gospel the kingdom is compared to a mustard seed that, tiny in its form, blossoms into a larger plant with room enough for all the birds of the air to nest in. The kingdom is also likened to yeast that a woman took and mixed with wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened. In the Preface for our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the universe, we pray may your kingdom come; a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace. When we pray the Our Father, we pray that thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
How would you interpret the kingdom or reign of God? For me, I believe the kingdom exists in the here and now as well as being a welcome state of eternal happiness upon resurrection. We just finished a 4-day parish picnic/carnival at our parish. Anyone who has ever been involved in even a small one-day event of this kind, knows full well the work involved and the sense of relief one feels when it is over. This year our pastor challenged each of us to look for the face of Jesus in the many encounters we would have with the myriads of people present at the carnival.
Seeing the face of Jesus in this overwhelming group of humanity was a little like the kingdom of heaven. There was true happiness and joy shared by so many people, the young and the not-so-young. The delight of children enjoying the thrill of a roller coaster ride seated securely next to Mom or Dad or a sibling. The screams of glee and anticipation heard throughout the carnival midway gave one a little sense of what heaven could be like. After all, heaven to a 5-year old doesn’t get any better than enjoying a serving of cotton candy that is bigger than they are!
There was a spirit of camaraderie and goodwill among those who worked the picnic, played the wheels, enjoyed a beer, a game of showdown poker or a delicious lasagna or chicken dinner. It seemed like the gates of heaven were open for all to come streaming through with a chance to enjoy the company of new and old friends and family.
It was a busy time for all who organized and worked the carnival days and at moments it may have seemed like too much chaos and not enough pleasure. In the long run, though, the event presented a microcosm of what I believe the kingdom of heaven is all about, a kingdom of truth, life, peace, justice, love, holiness and grace.
Theresa Secord is a Pastoral Associate at St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.