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Thy Kingdom Come

[caption id="attachment_3513" align="alignright" width="200"]Blog by Sr. Janet Schlicting, OP Blog by Sr. Janet Schlicting, OP[/caption] It’s a simple phrase in the middle of a simple prayer, yet its implications far outsize any attempt on our part to really grasp what it means—or what we mean when we pray it so often. "Thy Kingdom come." To the Jewish people it meant restoration of the glory of their nation and walking as God’s special children. To the Emperor Constantine, a convert to Christianity, it meant "Take up the cross and conquer people with it. Wipe your enemies off the earth, for they are God’s enemies also, and establish a Holy Empire." Not so different for the crusaders of the middle ages: free the Holy Land from the hands of the infidels! Clean out all the unbelievers and heretics, Jews and pagans.  Oh, and closer to home, let's set up a department of the Inquisition, too, to ferret out and punish all those in our cities and countries who threaten our God-Given understanding of the One True Faith. Not so different from ISIS, those self-appointed religious enforcers who want to wipe out anyone who stands in the way of their Caliphate and put all unbelievers to flight or to death so that they can glory in a "pure" (though merciless) reign across the Middle East. We have spent our lives praying "thy kingdom come," and the meaning grows and changes as we keep learning, grasping, practicing, then letting go. We know our understanding and our images are inadequate, that even Jesus could only approximate in his parables , and that the vivid scenery of the Book of Revelation or the writings of the mystics are mere glimpses of insight. We know we can't really build the reign of God or make it happen, though we can seek it and, like fireflies, shine with it in brief flashes of light, and witness to the God who working  in and through us, will accomplish its great flowering-forth. And we have Eucharist, which we celebrate dutifully. It seems so ordinary: a pared-down meal, half-heard readings, bread and cup shared in a predictable ritual, some prayers we know by heart if we haven't quite taken them to heart. But somehow, in and through this unremarkable gathering we are at the feast of the kingdom—that inbreaking of the power of Jesus risen that our brother Thomas Aquinas described as "the banquet where Christ is received, the memory of his passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given us." And we walk out of chapel or church and pick up where we left off, not fully realizing that God has picked us up and left us off in a new place, a  little more Christed, renewed, graced, and gloried, and that somehow, we are not far from the kingdom of God.

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