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The Coming of the Kingdom

 

One way to understand this weekend’s readings is to see them as extracts from a single story that’s being told out of sequence. We hear the Gospel last, but it’s actually the first part of the story. Jesus speaks prophetically to his disciples about how the Kingdom of God is going to emerge after he ascends to the Father.

The Holy Spirit will descend and empower them so that they can all share in Jesus’ work: to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth and to work miracles of love wherever they go. We’re given a second part of the story in our First Reading where this prophecy is beginning to be fulfilled. While the early Church was focussed mainly on trying to convert Jews to Christ—with limited success—great numbers of Gentiles started embracing the Gospel. The Apostles recognise that this must be God’s will because the new converts have clearly received the gifts of the Holy Spirit and are already producing good fruits for the Kingdom. Our Second Reading then reveals the end of the story. The Kingdom is fully realised in the New and Eternal Jerusalem where all of the inhabitants are enlightened by the inner fire of the Spirit and share fully in the love of God. But this is not the whole story. We all have our own chapter to add. But we need to ask ourselves if we’re really as responsive to the Spirit as we should be and if we’re producing as much good fruit as we can. If not, perhaps now is the right time to do something about it.

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