The Readings for the 11th Thursday, Tempus Per Annum
Thy kingdom comeMatthew 6:10 (AV)
MINDFUL THAT the original texts (in Hebrew and Greek) had no punctuation, I want to challenge you to read the Lord’s prayer here with a colon instead of a line break, comma, or full stop.
Thy kingdom come: thy will be done on earth as in heaven.
The implication being that it is somehow the doing of God’s will that brings about the kingdom. This follows on yesterday’s idea of doing everything for God (and not for worldly praise), and also on Jesus’ call that we “be perfect”. To be who we are called to be we must be within the will of God.
There are many who imagine the “Kingdom Come” to be some kind of economic left, inclusive, woke utopia filled with repressive laws that keep everyone pressed into a Hippier Boomer mold but, you know, Catholic. There are others who think it will be filled with repressive laws that keep everyone pressed into a mid-20th Century, white, middle-class, American mold, everyone looking like Ward and June Cleaver but, you know, Catholic. Both of these visions, left and right, imagine the state enforcing whatever form of politics is needed to make everyone pretend to be Catholic. No one seems to care about changing the hearts needed to make the Kingdom actually come. But that’s what’s needed. Forcing everyone to “do God’s will” by law is legalism, pure and simple. It can damn more than save.
But how does the colon change things? How is doing God’s will bringing the Kingdom? What is God’s will, anyway?
St Paul has the answer to the second question in a way that also answers the first:
God wills that all men should be saved.I Timothy 2:4
Prior to this Paul has us praying for kings and all in authority – even at a time when they were killing Christians. Mind you, not praying toend their government, but to change their hearts that all might be saved (that is, made whole). The will of God is that all come to a saving knowledge of the truth (that is, Jesus) and when that is on Earth as in heaven then the Kingdom will have come.
That’s what we pray for.
But do we act for it? We tend to think, “If we build it, they will come.” But that’s not at all how it works. If we build the Kingdom before we bring people to Jesus, we’re just Walt Disney. It’s bringing people to the saving knowledge of God that builds the kingdom. Doing God’s will brings about the kingdom – not the other way around.