Will You Proclaim the Kingdom of God?

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Christ Preaching in the Synagogue at Nazareth (14th century; Visoki Decani Monastery, Kosovo)

Christ Preaching in the Synagogue at Nazareth (14th century; Visoki Decani Monastery, Kosovo)

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Luke speaks to us about the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and His return to Nazareth, where he grew up. In the synagogue, where everyone knew him, he reads to them from the Prophet Isaiah. After he has read, he sits down and everyone is looking at him. He then says:

“Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus tells the people that his mission as Messiah is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Jesus is the one that the chosen people have been waiting for – He is the Good News. The best thing that can happen for the people has just happened. The kingdom of God is made present to them because Jesus the Word of God is in their midst.

If you continue to read from this Gospel, Chapter 4, you will see that “…all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” They also asked, ‘Isn’t this the son of Joseph?’ And from there, it goes down hill. How can this man, who has been their neighbor, claim to be the Messiah without the proof of miracles?! As we know from other Gospel accounts, even when Jesus does perform miracles and speaks with unheard authority, few put faith in Him. He is the Good News for all time, and is met by rejection – especially by his own people.

The Good News of God may not always seem like Good News to us, either. The Kingdom of God is opposed to the ways of the world. The world and what it has to offer have a powerful attraction on us, more now than ever before because the world is becoming more attractive to our senses and, our appetites keep increasing. Most of what the world has to offer is good, but the challenge is to keep everything its proper place. If God isn’t first in our life, then other things – people or ideas can become an obstacle to recognizing God in our midst.

The truth is: God is in our midst, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. One sign of God’s presence would be the kind of justice and charity present in a community as Jesus reads about from the prophet Isaiah. But even if we don’t recognize God’s presence in the community or people around us, we can humbly invite Christ to dwell within us and then bring his presence to our surroundings.

Billy Graham

Billy Graham

This is how we can be a light in the world to bring hope to others. It’s a choice we must make.

In recent times non-Catholics have been more effective than Catholics in encouraging people to make a concrete choice for God – which they call being ‘born again.’ About thirteen years ago, as a representative of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, I attended a Billy Graham Rally at the Alamodome. They wanted members of all the local churches to be present because they knew thousands of people would come and they wanted to be sure that as many as possible would be connected to a church.

We were instructed on how to approach people and pray with them as they would come forward after Billy Graham’s message.

Thousands of people did come forward who wanted to be connected to God. We approached them, asked them to commit their lives to God, and then prayed with them. They then filled out a card with their name, address and phone number which was sent to the Church of their choice. We did receive some of those cards at our parish, and I personally know of at least one person who went through RCIA to become Catholic because of that effort.

As Catholics we have been born again, by water and the spirit through Baptism and we have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit which we begin to discover as we mature in the faith. However, the truth is we must make an adult decision to be committed to Christ and to live a faithful relationship with the Holy Trinity. It’s not a one-time thing, but a process of ongoing conversion. As Catholics we are greatly blessed because of the abundant access we have to the grace we need, to live this relationship through the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist.

There was a Lutheran minister who said something to the effect:

“The Catholic Church is a sleeping giant, waiting to be awakened.”

If we would awaken and use the gifts God has given us, it would be obvious that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

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11 responses »

  1. Shouldn’t man be committed to serving the creator rather than the one that was created? Is it not more important to understand God’s purpose for mankind and the earth?

    While I would agree Jesus role in mankind’s salvation is critical, is it proper to elevate him above his father as if his father was insignificant?

    • Steven, thank you for your comment. Not sure what you meant by your first and second questions; would you mind clarifying? By whom do you mean “the one that was created”?
      As Catholics, we believe that God the Father and his son Jesus are one. So no, we do not elevate him above his Father, because he and his Father are one. It’s a mystery that cannot be comprehended!

  2. In the blog, there is a statement saying be committed to Christ. While I would agree that Jesus play a significant role to mankind’s salvation, he is not the architect of our salvation. God love world so much he gave his only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus has a significant role in God purpose for the earth and mankind. And because of his faithfulness, all of mankind is required to put faith in his ransom sacrifice, if they desire to be approved by God and be marked for salvation. But as regards salvation, that belongs to Jehovah, and Jehovah alone.

    Why do you insist on two persons being one person? This was not the understanding of the early Christian. Christ did say he and his Father are one but not in the sense of persons, but in the sense of being in agreement, in harmony. To Whom did Jesus pray? To whom did he teach his disciples to pray? Do you suppose that Jehovah would destroy himself if a part of him had not remained faithful till death? Jesus had free will. He was no different than Adam. He was rewarded for his faithfulness. This trinity doctrine is a mystery to only those that insist on believing it. And yet it in itself plays no role in doing God’s will beyond misrepresenting him as something that he is not. This is no different than the Israelite, fresh across the Red Sea, making a golden calf and calling it Yahweh!!!! So, many lost their lives as a result.

    While I understand that Christendom teach this as a fact, the scriptures are not in harmony with this thought, nor is history. So since this such a sticking point, I ask you: where is the benefit? What fundamentally changes with your devotion to God would take place if you found out he was separate, being separate from his Son? What really changes in your life if there are two separate persons?

    I bet outside of an apology, nothing!! So, you tell me, I truly am interested.

    • Steven,
      It is difficult to have a discussion about Christianity with someone who does not accept the Christian Scriptures. You have changed the bible to support your own teachings. For example, in all Christian Bibles the first verse of chapter one of the Gospel of John reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In your Bible the same verse reads, “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” Do you see the difference? The wording has been changed to refute the doctrine of the Holy Trinity which all Christians believe. Your understanding of church history is also incorrect. In the early church anyone who did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ was called a heretic. Steven, we are glad you have read our blog and we welcome your comments, but of course we will not be able to agree on many things because we are not of the same faith. If you are interested in learning more contact me.

  3. Thank you very much. But you did not answer any of my questions. Instead, you move straight to defending something that has been deemed a mystery.

    The very foundation of the scriptures is found at 2 Tim. 3:16 and 1 Cor. 14:33.

    The first refers to all scripture….beneficial…for teaching, for reproving, setting things straight. The second refers to God not being a God of confusion.

    How could anything in God’s word the bible be a mystery? The bible is for teaching, for reproving, and setting things straight. It certainly would not be confusion since the bible is truth.

    Can you explain this trinity doctrine? Though much is written about, it still remains a mystery even among its supporters. You believe it to be Bible truth.
    Okay. But can defend this? Lets see.

    I ask you how much do you know about this doctrine. Such as:

    1. What is its origin?
    2. When was it created, who created it, why did they create it?
    3. Can you explain why the Hebrews never taught that their God was a triune God?
    4. Can you explain why Jesus nor his Disciple taught, let alone mention, Jesus and his Father being part of a triune God?

    If you want to take one at a time, that is fine by me.

    • Steven,

      As I said previously there is little we can agree upon because you have accepted a belief system that has been established to refute Christianity. For two thousand years Christians have believed in the mysteries of the Holy Trinity, One God in three persons; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. In addition we believe that Jesus Christ is divine and human. As Scripture says, “the Word was with God and the Word was God… and all things came to be through him…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory,, the glory of the Father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” If you follow the Scriptures you will know that when the Word became flesh he was named Jesus. Jesus, the Word of God made flesh died for us on the cross to save us from our sins. Yes, God is a mystery, but His mysteries are revealed and supported by the Christian Scriptures and have been believed for two thousand years. It is through Christianity that the first hospitals and universities were founded and it is Christianity that has shaped the Western world. This country was founded on Christian principles. And even though many who have called themselves Christian have been great sinners, in every age for two thousand there have been many Christians of heroic virtue through whom God worked miracles and their lives are documented. We believe the mysteries that are the foundation of Christianity because God has revealed them and we believe God. Faith is believing in something that cannot be proven.

      For whatever reason, Charles Russell could not believe in these mysteries so he created some of his own. In order to do this he had to change the Bible to suit his on purpose. One example is that according to your teachings man has no immortal soul. He ceases to exist after his death, but will be recreated from God’s memory at the time of the resurrection. How do you explain that mystery?

      The resurrection is central to the Christian faith. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies will live.” Jesus was the first to fulfill this Scripture when he rose from the dead which you refuse to believe. Jesus said whoever believes in him will have eternal life. Our salvation is in Jesus Christ. You can choose to believe in Jesus Christ as God as we Christians, or you can reject him as Charles Russell has. I realize you have been indoctrinated to reject Christianity, but I pray that the Lord will give you the grace to read Church history from a Christian prospective so that you make discover the joy of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who is Our Lord and Savior.

  4. Thank you. While it is true that we will not agree, I am a bit surprised at your reluctants to defend or rather explain the origin of your belief. Brining up Russell has nothing to do with the origin of the trinity doctrine. Moreover, it is clear by your response you are more emotionally motivated to accept based on blind faith or credulity. Jehovah has given mankind the gift of free will. He has also provided the true of himself and of his Son Jesus Christ. That fact is stated at John 17:3.

    It is a mistake to abuse this freedom by not at least attempting to investigate the origin of this man-made doctrine. You owe it to yourself. Don’t follow something based on emotion. The trinity doctrine is part of history. It does not belong to any religion. Do not take my word for it. Investigate for yourself. And then, if you are still convinced this doctrine is Bible truth, at least YOU will be able to defend it based on your research which should be the basis of your belief and not emotion.

    Please use the gift and research it for yourself. Whether we agree or disagree, YOU owe it to yourself.

  5. Stephen,
    The origin of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is in the Christian Bible which you refute. There is one God in three divine persons; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. You already know about God the Father and I explained to you about God the Son, Jesus Christ. From the beginning of the Gospel of John, The Word is God and the Word becomes man and is given the name Jesus. In order to refute this truth your Bible has been changed to say the Word was a god, which has a totally different meaning. Since you do not accept the Christian Bible it is pointless to try to explain any doctrine to you.

    You also made a ridiculous statement that the doctrine of Trinity is part of history and does not belong to any religion. The doctrine of the Trinity has no purpose except in religion and it is the central doctrine of Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Armenians, Syrian Orthodox, Maronites, Melchites, and Coptics to name a few. We all baptize in the “Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” as commanded by Jesus Christ.

    Now explain to me the origin of your teaching that man does not have an immortal soul, that Jesus an St. Michael are the same person, that Jesus did not resurrect from the dead. What is the authority that proves your Bible is correct and the Christian Bible is incorrect?

    • Mr. Fox,

      You really do not know, do you? You really do not know the origin, the players involved or the outcome. You probably are not aware of how the Trinity dogma developed and what part was played by the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. Have you ever read the Nicene Creed? If you did, you would know that it does not connect the Holy Spirit to any godhead!!!!

      And since you brought up the Church Fathers, are you familiar with the early Church Fathers, the “APOSTOLIC FATHERS”. This is the designation used for churchmen who wrote about Christianity in the late first and early second centuries of our Common Era. Some of them were Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermas, and Papia. If the apostles taught the Trinity doctrine, then those Apostolic Fathers should have taught it too. It should have been prominent in their teaching, since nothing was more important than telling people who God is. But it was not. But you have not taken the time to research this, have you?

      Moreover, are you familiar with a book of 16 short chapters known as The Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles? Some historians date it before or about the year 100 C. Remmember,the Apostle John died in 96 C.E. The Didache deals with things people would need to know to become Christians. In its 7th chapter, it prescribes baptism “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” the same words Jesus used at Matthew 28:19. But it says nothing about the three being equal in eternity, power, position, and wisdom.

      These are some parts of history that you really should take the time to research instead of defending what you do not know. While you have zeal, you should make sure your zeal is not misguided or what the Apostle Paul said to the Roman Congregation, “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge.” (Romans 10:2)

      So, again, please use the gift of free will and research it for yourself. Whether we agree or disagree, YOU owe it to yourself.

      You have the last word….

      • Stephen,
        It is obvious that you have not read the authors you have mentioned.
        In the narrative of St. Polycarp’s martyrdom we read: “With Whom to Thee and the Holy Spirit be glory now and for the ages to come” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 14; cf. 22).
        Clement of Alexandria bids men “give thanks and praise to the only Father and Son, to the Son and Father with the Holy Spirit” (The Pedagogue III.12).
        St. Hippolytus closes his work against Noetus with the words: “To Him be glory and power with the Father and the Holy Spirit in Holy Church now and always for ever and ever. Amen” (Against Noetus 18).
        Denis of Alexandria uses almost the same words: “To God the Father and to His Son Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit be honour and glory forever and ever, Amen” (in St. Basil, On the Holy Spirit 29.72).
        St. Basil further tells us that it was an immemorial custom among Christians when they lit the evening lamp to give thanks to God with prayer: Ainoumen Patera kai Gion kai Hagion Pneuma Theou (“We praise the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit of God”).

        You have not only changed the Bible, you have also changed church history by quoting out of context. It is also obvious that you have only been trained in how to ask questions and not how to answer them. You have joined a cult that is founded on the rejection of the Word of God and lies. If you would like to continue to dialogue, then answer the questions I asked previously.

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