Daily Homily: May You Be Considered Worthy of the Kingdom of God

August 25, Monday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time, Year Two

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2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12
Psalm 96:1-2a,2b-3,4-5
Matthew 23:13-22

The Kingdom of God is a central theme in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus begins his public ministry preaching that the Kingdom of God is at hand and urges repentance from sin and belief in the Gospel. This Kingdom belongs not to the prideful and those attached to earthly treasure, but to the poor in spirit, to those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Attachment to riches makes hard to enter the kingdom of heaven. However, those who sell everything to follow Jesus, will reign with him (19:27-30). Those who observe the commandments of God and teach the commandments to others will be great in the Kingdom of God. The child-like and the humble enter the Kingdom (18:1-4). We are to pray for the coming of the Kingdom (6:10). We are to seek first the kingdom and not focus primarily on our earthly needs (6:33).

The Apostles are sent out to the lost sheep of Israel and are to preach that the Kingdom of God is at hand (10:7). Jesus’ word is the word of the Kingdom (13:18). Good and bad men will live side by side in the Kingdom until the end of time (13:24-30). Both will be gathered into the royal wedding feast, but ultimately they will be separated from one another at the end of the age (22:1-14). Our King is merciful and we are to imitate his mercy (18:35).

The Kingdom will continue to grow like a seed, and is like a hidden treasure buried in a field or a pearl of great price. It is worth selling everything we possess to obtain it. Jesus gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (16:19) and gives authority to the other apostles (18:18).

Jesus has just told his Apostles and disciples to observe the teaching of the scribes and pharisees (23:2), but, at the same time, the hypocrisy of the scribes and pharisees keeps them from entering the Kingdom and hinders others from entering into the kingdom. To enter the Kingdom, our righteousness must surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (5:20). They are blind guides leading the blind, using sophistry to justify their evil actions. They make false oaths by the temple or by the temple altar and hold that only oaths made by the gold of the temple or by the gift on the altar oblige them. Earlier Jesus commanded the people not to swear oaths at all. If every word that they say is truthful and there is no need to swear oaths to back up what they say (5:33-37).

In his Second Letter to the Thessalonians, Paul encourages the Church to endure sufferings and persecutions so that they many be considered worthy of the Kingdom of God. The Acts of the Apostles (17:1-9) tells us how Paul preached in the synagogue and persuaded some of the Jews, a large number of Greeks and some prominent women to accept Jesus as the Messiah. This made the other Jews envious and a mob formed and started a riot in the city. The mob dragged the believers before the city officials and only let them go when the posted bond. Paul and Silas escaped the city at night. Paul, then, has first-hand experience of the persecution in Thessalonica, and prays that God may bring to fulfillment his plan of salvation in the Church and that Jesus Christ may be glorified in them and they in Christ.

The Christian community is united by their faith in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ. The source for this bond of communion is the grace and peace that comes from the Father and the Son. Paul give thanks to God because the Thessalonians are growing in faith and love and are patiently enduring persecution on account of their faith.

In his letter, Paul will go on to correct a misunderstanding in the community about Christ’s glorious second coming. There is a series of events that must take place before the day of the Lord, the day of judgment. It is true that the return of Christ is imminent, but, as Jesus said, none of us know the day nor the hour of his return. He will come like a thief in the night and so we must always be ready.

The Kingdom of God is present yet awaits definitive establishment at the end of time. Since the day of Christ’s Ascension and the day of Pentecost we are living in the end times, we are already at the last hour (CCC, 670). The present time time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but is also a time marked by ‘distress’ and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching (CCC, 672). The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through a final Passover and ultimate trial. In this way, she follows Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. «The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world» (CCC, 677).

We will be judged by God and the secrets intentions of our heart will be brought to light. Will we be judged like the scribes and Pharisees, with unmerciful hearts full of hypocrisy? Or will we be judged to have a merciful, child-like heart that welcomes the Word of God and allows God to reign?

Readers may contact Fr Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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