What is the Kingdom of God like?
To what can I compare it?
It is like a mustard seed that a man took
and planted in the garden.
When it was fully grown, it became a large bush
and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.
EVERY day, we pray the words: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Jesus would not have taught us to pray as such unless we were to expect the Kingdom yet to come. At the same time, the first words of Our Lord in His ministry were:
This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel. (Mark 1:15)
But then He speaks of future “end time” signs, saying:
…when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. (Luke 21:30-31).
So, which is it? Is the Kingdom here or yet to come? It is both. A seed does not explode into maturity overnight.
The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. (Mark 4:28)
The Reign of the Divine Will
Returning to the Our Father, Jesus is teaching us to pray essentially for the “Kingdom of the Divine Will”, when in us, it will be done “on earth as it is Heaven.” Clearly, He is speaking of a coming manifestation of the Kingdom of God in the temporal “on earth” — otherwise, He would simply have taught us to pray: “Thy Kingdom come” to bring time and history to its conclusion. Indeed, the Early Church Fathers, based on the testimony of St. John himself, spoke of a future Kingdom on earth.
We do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven, only in another state of existence; inasmuch as it will be after the resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely-built city of Jerusalem… —Tertullian (155–240 A.D.), Nicene Church Father; Adversus Marcion, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Henrickson Publishers, 1995, Vol. 3, pp. 342-343)
To understand what the symbolic words a “thousand years” means, see The Day of the Lord. The essential point here is that St. John wrote and spoke of the fulfillment of the Our Father:
A man among us named John, one of Christ’s Apostles, received and foretold that the followers of Christ would dwell in Jerusalem for a thousand years, and that afterwards the universal and, in short, everlasting resurrection and judgment would take place. —St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Ch. 81, The Fathers of the Church, Christian Heritage
Unfortunately, early Jewish converts presumed a literal coming of Christ on earth to establish a political kingdom of sorts, replete with banquets and carnal festivities. This was quickly condemned as the heresy of millenarianism.cf. Millenarianism – Wht It is, and is Not Rather, Jesus and St. John are referring to an internal reality within the Church herself:
The Church “is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 763
But it is a reign that, like the blossoming mustard seed, is not yet fully mature:
The Catholic Church, which is the kingdom of Christ on earth, [is] destined to be spread among all men and all nations… —POPE PIUS XI, Quas Primas, Encyclical, n. 12, Dec. 11th, 1925; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 763
So what will it look like when the Kingdom comes “on earth as it is in Heaven”? What will this mature “mustard seed” look like?
The Era of Peace and Holiness
This is our great hope and our invocation, ‘Your Kingdom come!’—a Kingdom of peace, justice and serenity, which will re-establish the original harmony of creation. —ST. POPE JOHN PAUL II, General Audience, November 6th, 2002, Zenit
In a word, it will be when the Church resembles her spouse, Jesus Christ, who in the hypostatic union of His divine and human nature, restored or “resurrected”,cf. The Resurrection of the Church as it were, the union of the Divine and human will through the reparation and redemptive act of His suffering, death, and resurrection. Hence, the work of Redemption will only be complete when the work of Sanctification is accomplished:
For the mysteries of Jesus are not yet completely perfected and fulfilled. They are complete, indeed, in the person of Jesus, but not in us, who are his members, nor in the Church, which is his mystical body. —St. John Eudes, treatise “On the Kingdom of Jesus”, Liturgy of the Hours, Vol IV, p 559
And what exactly is it that is “incomplete” in the Body of Christ? It is the fulfillment of the Our Father in us as it is in Christ.
“All creation,” said St. Paul, “groans and labors up till now,” awaiting Christ’s redemptive efforts to restore the proper relationship between God and his creation. But Christ’s redemptive act did not of itself restore all things, it simply made the work of redemption possible, it began our redemption. Just as all men share in the disobedience of Adam, so all men must share in the obedience of Christ to the Father’s will. Redemption will be complete only when all men share his obedience… —Servant of God Fr. Walter Ciszek, He Leadeth Me (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), pp. 116-117
What will this look like?
It is a union of the same nature as that of the union of heaven, except that in paradise the veil which conceals the Divinity disappears… —Jesus to Venerable Conchita, from Walk With Me Jesus, Ronda Chervin
God himself had provided to bring about that “new and divine” holiness with which the Holy Spirit wishes to enrich Christians at the dawn of the third millennium, in order to “make Christ the heart of the world.” —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Rogationist Fathers, n. 6, www.vatican.va
…His bride has made herself ready. She was allowed to wear a bright, clean linen garment… that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Rev 17:9-8; Ephesians 5:27)
Since this is an interior coming of the Kingdom that will be accomplished as by a “new Pentecost,”see The Coming Descent of the Divine Will this is the reason Jesus says that His Kingdom is not of this world, ie. a political kingdom.
The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you… is close at hand. (Luke 17:20-21; Mark 1:15)
Thus, concludes a magisterial document:
If before that final end there is to be a period, more or less prolonged, of triumphant sanctity, such a result will be brought about not by the apparition of the person of Christ in Majesty but by the operation of those powers of sanctification which are now at work, the Holy Ghost and the Sacraments of the Church. —The Teaching of the Catholic Church: A Summary of Catholic Doctrine, London Burns Oates & Washbourne, 1952; arranged and edited by Canon George D. Smith (this section written by Abbot Anscar Vonier), p. 1140
For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17)
For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. (1 Cor 4:20; cf. Jn 6:15)
The Spreading of the Branches
Nonetheless, several popes during the last century spoke openly and prophetically that they expect this coming Kingdom with “unshakeable faith”,POPE ST. PIUS X, E Supremi, Encyclical “On the Restoration of All Things”, n.14, 6-7 a triumph that cannot but have temporal consequences:
Here it is foretold that His Kingdom will have no limits, and will be enriched with justice and peace: “in his days shall justice spring up, and abundance of peace…And he shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth”… When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony… for with the spread and the universal extent of the Kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished. —POPE PIUS XI, Quas Primas, n. 8, 19; Dec. 11th, 1925
Does this surprise you? Why is there not more spoken of this in Scripture if it is the climax of human history? Jesus explains to Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta:
Now, you must know that, in coming upon earth, I came to manifest my Celestial doctrine, to make known my Humanity, my Fatherland, and the order which the creature had to maintain in order to reach Heaven — in a word, the Gospel. But I said almost nothing or very little about my Will. I almost passed over It, only making them understand that the thing which I cared the most was the Will of my Father. I said almost nothing about Its qualities, about Its height and greatness, and about the great goods which the creature receives by living in my Volition, because the creature was too much of an infant in Celestial things, and would have understood nothing. I just taught her to pray: ‘Fiat Voluntas Tua, sicut in coelo et in terra’ (“Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”) so that she might dispose herself to know this Will of Mine in order to love It, to do It, and therefore receive the gifts It contains. Now, that which I was to do at that time — the teachings about my Will which I was to give to all — I have given to you. —Volume 13, June 2, 1921
And given in abundance: 36 volumes of sublime teachingscf. On Luisa and Her Writings that unfold the eternal depths and beauty of the Divine Will which began human history with the Fiat of Creation — but which was interrupted by Adam’s departure from it.
In one passage, Jesus gives us a sense of this mustard tree of the Kingdom of the Divine Will expanding throughout the ages and now coming into maturity. He explains how over the centuries He has slowly prepared the Church to receive the “Sanctity of sanctities”:
To one group of people he has shown the way to get to his palace; to a second group he has pointed out the door; to the third he has shown the staircase; to the fourth the first rooms; and to the last group he has opened all the rooms… Have you seen what living in My Will is?… It is to enjoy, while remaining on earth, all the Divine qualities… It is the Sanctity not yet known, and which I will make known, which will set in place the last ornament, the most beautiful and most brilliant among all the other sanctities, and that will be the crown and completion of all other sanctities. —Jesus to Luisa, Vol. XIV, November 6th, 1922, Saints in the Divine Will by Fr. Sergio Pellegrini, p. 23-24; and The Gift of Living in the Divine Will, Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi; n. 126.96.36.199.1 A —
Towards the end of the world… Almighty God and His Holy Mother are to raise up great saints who will surpass in holiness most other saints as much as the cedars of Lebanon tower above little shrubs. —St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, Article 47
Far from somehow “ripping off” the great Saints of yesterday, these souls already in Paradise will only experience a greater blessedness in Heaven to the degree the Church experiences this “Gift of Living in the Divine Will” on earth. Jesus compares it to a boat (machine) with the ‘engine’ of the human will passing through and within the ‘sea’ of the Divine Will:
Every time the soul makes her own special intentions in my Will, the engine puts the machine into motion; and since my Will is life of the Blessed as well as of the machine, it is no wonder that my Will, which springs out from this machine, enters into Heaven and glows with light and glory, spouting upon all, up to my Throne, and then descends again into the sea of my Will on earth, for the good of pilgrim souls. —Jesus to Luisa, Volume 13, August 9th, 1921
This may be why St. John’s visions in the Book of Revelation frequently alternate between praises proclaimed by the Church Militant on earth and then the Church Triumphant already in Heaven: the apocalypse, which means “unveiling”, is the triumph of the entire Church — the unveiling of the final stage of the Bride of Christ’s “new and divine holiness.”
…we recognize that “heaven” is where the will of God is done, and that “earth” becomes “heaven”—i.e., the place of the presence of love, of goodness, of truth and of divine beauty—only if on earth the will of God is done. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, General Audience, February 1st, 2012, Vatican City
Why not ask him to send us new witnesses of his presence today, in whom He himself will come to us? And this prayer, while it is not directly focused on the end of the world, is nevertheless a real prayer for His coming; it contains the full breadth of the prayer that he himself taught us: “Your kingdom come!” Come, Lord Jesus! —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, p. 292, Ignatius Press
And only then, when the Our Father is fulfilled “on earth as it is in Heaven,” will time (chronos) cease and a “new heavens and new earth” commence after the Final Judgment.cf. Rev 20:11 – 21:1-7
At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1060
The generations will not end until My Will reigns upon earth. —Jesus to Luisa, Volume 12, February 22nd, 1991
What we are witnessing presently is the “final confrontation” between two kingdoms: the kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of Christ (see The Clash of the Kingdoms). Satan’s is the spreading kingdom of global Communismcf. Isaiah’s Prophecy of Global Communism and When Communism Returns that attempts to mimic “peace, justice, and unity” with a false security (health “passports”), false justice (equality based on the end of private property and redistribution of wealth) and a false unity (forced conformity into a “single thought” rather than the union in charity of our diversity). Therefore, we must prepare ourselves for a difficult and painful hour, already unfolding. For The Resurrection of the Church must first be preceded by the Passion of the Church (see Brace for Impact).
On the one hand, we ought to anticipate the coming of Christ’s Kingdom of the Divine Will with joy:Heb 12:2: “For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.”
Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:28)
On the other hand, Jesus warns that the trial will be so great that He may not find faith on earth when He returns.cf Luke 18:8 In fact, in the Gospel of Matthew, the Our Father concludes with the petition: “do not subject us to the final test.” Matt 6:13 So, our response must be one of an Invincible Faith in Jesus while not caving into the temptation to a kind of virtue-signalling or fake joy relying upon human strength, that ignores the fact that evil prevails precisely to the extent that we ignore it:cf. Enough Good Souls
…we don’t hear God because we don’t want to be disturbed, and so we remain indifferent to evil.”…such a disposition leads to “a certain callousness of the soul towards the power of evil.” The Pope was keen to stress that Christ’s rebuke to his slumbering apostles – “stay awake and keep vigil” – applies to the entire history of the Church. Jesus’ message, the Pope said, is a “permanent message for all time because the disciples’ sleepiness is not problem of that one moment, rather of the whole of history, ‘the sleepiness’ is ours, of those of us who do not want to see the full force of evil and do not want to enter into his Passion.” —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Catholic News Agency, Vatican City, Apr 20, 2011, General Audience
I think St. Paul strikes the right balance of mind and soul when he calls us to sobriety:
But you, brothers, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief. For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober. Those who sleep go to sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation. (1 Thess 5:1-8)
It is precisely in the spirit of “faith and love” that true joy and peace will blossom within us to the point of conquering every fear. For “love never fails”1 Cor 13:8 and “perfect love casts out all fear.”1 John 4:18
They will keep sowing terror, fright and slaughters everywhere; but the end will come — my Love will triumph over all of their evils. Therefore, lay your will within Mine, and with your acts you will come to extend a second heaven over the heads of all… They want to make war — so be it; when they get tired, I too will make my war. Their tiredness in evil, their disenchantments, the disillusions, the losses suffered, will dispose them to receive my war. My war will be war of love. My Will will descend from Heaven into their midst… —Jesus to Luisa, Volume 12, April 23, 26, 1921
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|↑1||cf. Millenarianism – Wht It is, and is Not|
|↑2||see The Single Will|
|↑3||cf. The Resurrection of the Church|
|↑4||see The Coming Descent of the Divine Will|
|↑5||POPE ST. PIUS X, E Supremi, Encyclical “On the Restoration of All Things”, n.14, 6-7|
|↑6||cf. On Luisa and Her Writings|
|↑7||cf. Rev 20:11 – 21:1-7|
|↑8||cf. Isaiah’s Prophecy of Global Communism and When Communism Returns|
|↑9||Heb 12:2: “For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.”|
|↑10||cf Luke 18:8|
|↑12||cf. Enough Good Souls|
|↑13||1 Cor 13:8|
|↑14||1 John 4:18|