The Kingdom Is Near

Friday of Week 34 in Ordinary Time - Cycle II

Apoc. 20:1-4, 11-21:2 & Lk. 21:29-33

Jesus Christ will preside over the final judgement of the whole world. He was not given this authority by some arbitrary decision of God; He earned the right to judge the world by His sinless life and sacrificial death. Moreover, in Saint John's vision, Jesus Christ will be assisted in the final judgement by those brave men and women who followed His example, by living a saintly life and by dying a martyr's death.

Those who have lost their lives for the sake of the Gospel and have never bowed their knee to the forces of evil will be given thrones next to Christ's throne. From those thrones, they will reign with Christ for a thousand years, bringing peace to all the nations of the Earth and pronouncing judgement on every person who has ever lived at the end of time.

Christian thinkers have differed over whether this picture of the white throne judgement is to be interpreted literally or symbolically. Some believe that there will be an actual throne set up in Jerusalem from which Christ and His saints will rule and judge. Others take these words as a symbolic way of talking about the power of the example of Christ. But all commentators agree alike on one crucial point: those who sacrificed their lives for the faith have earned the right to sit in judgement on the rest of us.

That may not mean that they actually applaud our good deeds and condemn our evil acts. It means that these exemplary individuals have set history's benchmarks for dedication to the work of the Kingdom of God. We must measure our devotion to Christ against the saints rather than against one another.

What are to make of today’s Gospel? We must understand it in the context of the whole of Chapter 21 of Luke’s account. Jesus is responding to the disciples’ anxious plea as to when there would be the destruction of the Temple and the end of the world. I think Jesus is not concerned about the timing of either - He wants them to recognise the Kingdom of God within them now. But He tells them some signs that will precede the imminent fall of Jerusalem as well as the coming of the Son of Man “on the clouds.”

These events will all be very apparent, as is the coming of summer to us when the trees are in bud. But Jesus is telling us to be focused on living and knowing the Kingdom of God now and not to be obsessed with figuring out the when. How easily we are distracted with all that happens around us, yet how difficult it is to be aware of the Kingdom and its demands in my heart and my relations to others in my life! What efforts do I make to discover and know the present demands of His Kingdom in my life?

Lord Jesus, give us a greater faith and confidence that every cross and burden, no matter how great or small, is a means of loving and believing in You. We want to build Your Kingdom with You. Keep us focused on the opportunities and demands of the present moment.