Jesus – a radical?
The simple answer is yes. Jesus was radical in his ministry and teachings. He questioned the rulers of the Jewish faith, he threw people out of the temple, he pronounced woe to the scribes and Pharisees, he performed healings and miracles on the Sabbath, and even ate without washing his hands. His whole Sermon on the Mount turned the Jewish traditions and laws seemingly upside down.
The simple answer is that Jesus was a radical; however, I don’t believe it’s that simple.
Jesus was a radical who was fully committed to doing God’s will. He was a servant to his followers, as well as a leader. He was radical about what was really important to him.
What was really important for Jesus?
We know that life-long the most important thing for him was his mission to bring “good news” of God’s Kingdom to a confused and suffering humanity. He concretized his message in the image of God’s kingdom where all were welcome (Mt. 25). He was all about God’s kingdom.
He described how those who understood the kingdom would treat one another as sisters and brothers (Mt 25), as what was important to God. The first followers asked how they should pray. He taught them above all to pray “Our Father” and that God’s kingdom come. (Like 11:24, Mt 25:31)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
No wonder the Catechism of the Church says that what we pray for should be centered on the praying “thy kingdom come.”
- Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ. #2632
- There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. #2632
- This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community.… By prayer, every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom. #2632
This gives us a context for everything else we pray for.
- When we share in God’s saving love, we understand that every need can become the object of petition. #2633
Praying for the kingdom is praying for a systemic change.
I must admit I never thought of the Our Father as a prayer for systemic change. Often, without realizing it, I have tended to think of the kingdom in terms of the future.
But as I reflect now on what was important to Jesus in the here and now of our lives, I realize how much I am praying for a systemic change in my consciousness. The kingdom is waking up to who we are as sons and daughters and brothers and sisters. That’s why he could say “For behold, the kingdom of God is among you.” Luke 17:21
What could be a more radical change in my consciousness and how I live into that reality?
Praying for what is really important.
- Apart from the Our Father, do I pray for the coming of the kingdom as Jesus asked?
- Do I realize that praying “thy kingdom come” is praying for the greatest systemic change of all times and persons?
- Does praying for the kingdom to come to rule out praying for the things we more frequently ask God for?