Reflections - January 21, 2018

“This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”  Mk. 1:15.
 
I would like to reflect on two of Jesus’ attitudes during His public life:  the proclamation of the Kingdom and the call of his collaborators. 
 
In Jesus’ time there was a deep state of alert waiting for the imminent coming of the Messiah, who would restore the much-awaited kingdom.  The expectations were:  when, where, and how.  Would the Romans be defeated?  Would the Messiah-king enter Jerusalem triumphantly with soldiers or would He come in differently?
 
The Essenes, a Jewish religious group, had gone to the desert to purify themselves and be prepared for the arrival.  John the Baptist preached the judgment of God, which is why he baptized as a sign of repentance for the coming of the Messiah:  “The ax lies at the root of the trees.  Therefore every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”  Lk. 3:9.  However the Kingdom of Jesus was coming through other paths.  Jesus saw the Kingdom of His Father, God, as a family that includes all of humanity including our enemies.  “Love one another as I have loved you, “to the point of giving His life for the human family for the forgiveness of sins”.  That radicalism of the Kingdom of God as a family is what makes Him “share the bread of life” at a table.  Share also in the common bag for the needs of the communities in Jerusalem.  We will later see this same gesture manifested in the early Christians who meet as a family of the Kingdom to break the bread and give each other “the kiss of peace”.  A gesture that in that time only the Hebrew families did.
 
Jesus calls His disciples to follow Him not as the winning, conquering, triumphant Messiah, but as a victim who gives His life.  Truth and Justice would be on the side of their Master, triumphant of death and sin.  He would say to His followers:  “Whoever finds his life will lost it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”.  Mt. 10:39.  In reality what Jesus wanted to say to all the Baptized is:  “When we are not willing to die for others, we are already dead.  When we are willing to die for others we are actually alive”.  Some people think that Jesus came to put the world upside down.  On the contrary, Jesus came to put the world right side up.  If someone tells you that is not realistic or practical, Paul clarifies this new wisdom to the first Christians:  “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to gentiles. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”  1 Cor. 1:23-25.  Jesus’ message to anyone who wants to follow it is:  The Kingdom of God is already with Me; “Repent and believe in the truth of my kingdom.  See the world as a large family in which I am present every day until the end of the world”.