1ST DECEMBER 2021
THE REIGN OF GOD
The Reign of God is marked by celebration and feasting. In the First Reading Isaiah reassures the deposed people of Israel that God has not forgotten them but will lead them to the divine mountain where God will take care of all their needs. Not only will God provide the bare necessities, God will provide rich, choice food and the best drinks possible. God’s provision will lead to great rejoicing.
In the Gospel, Jesus demonstrates the essential message of Reign of God not just in words, but also in action. Compassionately, Jesus first tends to those who are physically hampered from enjoying the blessings of the Reign of God. Jesus brings salus (healing, wholeness, salvation) to those who are less than whole. He heals the blind, lame, deaf, and dumb. Seeing the needs of all the crowd, Jesus shows God’s benevolence by feeding the throngs of people. Jesus first asks His disciples what they have in the way of food to feed the multitude. He then gives not only what is needed to survive the journey, but also more than enough, so that everyone is fully satiated and there is still plenty left over.
A couple of things run through my mind as I reflect on the readings. The first is the “already, but not yet” nature of the “coming” (adventus) of Reign of God. Through the ministry of Jesus, the Reign of God has already begun. We are already beneficiaries of God’s compassion. Yet the fullness of the blessings of the Reign of God are yet to be experienced. We have not yet come to know and see the extent to which God will go in letting us be a part of the “coming” Reign. To put it in a phrase, “we haven’t seen anything yet.”
The second thing that comes to me is tied to the first. There might still be some trying times ahead before we reach the house of our God where God will reign majestically forever. The psalm speaks of this when it says that peace comes even to those who are walking through the valley of darkness.
I am both excited and a bit apprehensive. I like the idea that the Reign of God has already begun and that even better things are in store for us. I am a bit un‐eased at the prospect of having to travel through more darkness.
All of this leads me to keep my eyes focused on the “already, but not yet” Reign of God. Jesus has ushered in that Reign. He has reached out His compassionate arms and heart to us. He has begun the process of giving us salus (healing, wholeness, salvation). The fullness, however, of the Reign is not with us. We still have to go through some dark valleys and face trying times. We are not yet perfected in a way in which we will be when we enter the final Reign of God.
We are truly “in between.” We are between the beginning of the Reign of God and its completion. We are still on the journey. We sometimes get glimpses of what is to come. We begin living the life of the Reign of God by our reaching out with the compassion of Jesus. If we stay on the path on which the Shepherd is leading us, we will arrive at the banquet feast in the Reign of God. It is then that we will be able to say with the psalmist today, “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.”