Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Entering the Kingdom of God before You

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

By Melanie Rigney

… I will change and purify the lips of the peoples, that they all may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one accord… (Zephaniah 3:9)
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. (Psalms 34:19)
(Jesus told the chief priests and elders:) “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.” (Matthew 21:31-32)

Lord, help me to recognize, love, and adore You in all the forms in which You will appear in my life today.

Lately, I’ve been writing about the Beatitudes, how women saints lived them, and what we can learn from them. The one that has taken the most pondering to date is Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I get the concept of spiritual poverty—not that I live it anywhere near as well as the four women I’m profiling—but that part about the kingdom of heaven has taken a while. That those who abandon all their emotional and physical baggage get to heaven before the rest of us? That they are finding glimpses of heaven here on earth?

Maybe the answer is in today’s Gospel reading, when Jesus tells the elders and chief priests: “Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you.” Maybe “before you” shouldn’t conjure up images of a long queue with Peter at the gate a la TSA, carefully checking identifications for most of us, with a privileged few who qualify for TSA Preü as tax collectors and prostitutes waltzing right on through. Maybe we’re putting the emphasis in the wrong place. Perhaps Jesus is referring to his earthly presence as the kingdom of God, and that it is indeed before them all, there for the taking if only they would recognize it. And maybe, instead of that long line later on, we have the opportunity for early check-in every day when we praise him, adore him, and love others in his name.

Speaking of long lines… why wait until the last minute to tidy up your 2014 giving? Any number of local, national, and international charities would appreciate your yearend support this week, before their staffs take time off for Christmas and New Year’s. If you’re a Cursillista, please consider a donation to Cursillo of the Arlington Diocese to help defray the cost of future Weekends and other expenses. 

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