The time is running out (1 Cor 7, 29)
The proclamation of the kingdom of God is also an invitation to repentance.
“The kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” It is about living according to the Spirit (Gal 5, 22-23).
Spiritual life demands that one turn away from carnal life. The latter is obvious in those things that hinder those who do them from inheriting the kingdom of God (Gal 5, 9-21).
But hardly will someone change his life if he is satisfied with the life he leads. The chief priests and the elders of the people do not see themselves in need of anything spiritual or material. Not needing to change their mind about anything, they do not believe, for instance, in John the Baptist who shows them the way of righteousness.
Tax collectors, in contrast, and prostitutes believe, and thus enter the kingdom of God ahead of those of strict religious observance. The unsuspected believers, just like the people of Nineveh, understand better than those with a special calling God’s delightful and surprising mercy.
Yes, the kingdom of God belongs to the poor. By confessing their sins, they show they hunger and thirst for righteousness, forgiveness, justification. They admit their emptiness and seek Someone bigger than themselves to fill them. Because they know what it means to live without anyone taking pity on them and they have also tasted God’s mercy, they do not fail to show mercy. Excluded and insulted frequently, they long to hear welcoming and uplifting words.
And with hearts cleansed of every impurity that causes blindness, the poor perceive the truth. They make up the people of God that “have an unerring sense for recognizing good shepherds and in distinguishing them from hirelings.” Theirs is the instinctive perception of Peter and Andrew, of James and John, who, hearing only Jesus’ urgent invitation, immediately abandon their nets and boats, and follow him.
Indeed, God reveals himself to the simple folks and hides from the learned. That is why, it is the poor who keep the true religion, as St. Vincent de Paul affirms (Coste XI:200-201; XII:171). They have a better grasp of the Eucharist as the source and summit of Christian service.
There is no emphasizing enough that to exchange the old life for the new that is gospel-like and unifying demands this sort of boarding pass: that we become poor and, like Saul, accept our blindness and let ourselves be preached to in a mission by those relegated to the outskirts, rural or otherwise.
O God, create for me a pure and contrite heart that will feel the presence of your kingdom.
Ross Reyes Dizon