Look for the Kingdom Moments
The cycle of Sunday readings is currently focusing on the Kingdom of Heaven.
In a series of parables, Jesus gives us images of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like: a precious pearl that a man will sell his entire fortune just so that he can buy it. Or a house with many rooms in which everyone will feel welcome.
At a time when we are missing our spiritual home inside the familiar buildings of our parish churches, where we were used to experiencing a little bit of the Kingdom of Heaven in the sacrament of the Mass and in communion with one another, these parables are both a comfort and a challenge.
On the one hand, we draw solace in remembering that our passage through this life with its many challenges is temporary and that our real hope lies in spending eternity in the presence of God, as Jesus promised in his parables.
On the other hand, it’s been really hard to muster up that Kingdom feeling.
The Kingdom of Heaven we envisage is a place of unity and togetherness. I haven’t seen any of my fellow parishioners in over three months. I chat to a few of them over WhatsApp or Zoom, but it’s not quite the same thing.
Online Mass has been wonderful because I can attend Mass with priests who’ve played an important role in my life, and it allows me to connect with what is going on in their parishes—but as a result, I lose touch with what is happening in my parish community.
The lack of unity in our society also breaks down that Kingdom feeling. People are divided over the wearing of masks, the authorities’ handling of the pandemic, the growing #BlackLivesMatter movement, international politics, and any other range of issues.
In our pandemic-enforced isolation in our own personal kingdoms, it seems that we have lost tolerance for alternative viewpoints that do not match our own.
This is precisely the challenge. The Kingdom of Heaven is so much more than a final destination once our earthly lives are past. The Kingdom of Heaven is something that we build here on earth. In the words of the Our Father—thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven— we learn that prayer is more than heartfelt words. Prayer becomes action.
Find daily ‘Kingdom moments’
While we ask God to make our earthly kingdoms a little more like God’s Kingdom, the prayer is not really one of supplication. It is one of mission. It is the desire of the Christian to find Kingdom moments in every day.
This is important, now more than ever. We are isolated in our homes, far from our loved ones. Our work and social lives are lived online. In this context it becomes so easy to miss those Kingdom moments.
It might be as simple as a deep appreciation for God’s creation.
After a really stormy week in Cape Town, I took a walk along the beach on the first sunny day that I was free. Often I’m walking for exercise and my focus is on time or distance. On this day, I had no plan. I simply wanted to wander around outdoors.
I didn’t venture very far, but soon found myself on some rocks looking for shells. As I picked up each shell, I marvelled at its beauty and the detail of the patterns. I did this for about two hours. This was a Kingdom moment.
Kingdom moments exist with every human interaction—greeting the cashier in the supermarket or thanking the security guard for sanitising our hands.
Many people are volunteering food, money, and time to feed the hungry. Wearing a mask in public to protect ourselves and others is a sign of respect. These are Kingdom moments too.
We are not going to change the world overnight. There will still be wars, hunger, and pestilence. But when we look for Kingdom moments amidst the daily hardships, we begin to see the joy and the beauty of the world that, although imperfect, is the one that God has ordained for us to live in.
When we find beauty, our attitude changes too. Suddenly the bad news is not quite so terrible, our worries are not as great, and everything somehow becomes manageable.
We’ve shared the Kingdom of Heaven with others, but the Kingdom of Heaven within ourselves has also grown.
What is your Kingdom moment this week?