Kingdom of Love


Seeking the Kingdom of Love

(Dt 26:16-19; Ps 119; Mt 5:43-48)


Years ago, John Lennon sang, “All you need is love.” Although the kind of love he was singing about probably does not speak to the kingdom that Jesus teaches us about, he was right – life is all about love, and love, in the end, is all we need and all that will endure.

That is the message of the Word of God for us today: Seek first the Kingdom of God, and love one another.

The readings today actually involve four mandates: love God, neighbor, ourselves, and I would also suggest, all of creation. The kicker in today’s reading is that love of neighbor includes loving our enemies.

In the first reading Moses exhorts the people to be holy, to worship God in spirit and truth, by keeping the commandments. The psalm repeats over and over that the people who keep the law of the Lord are a blessed and happy people.

In the gospel, Jesus takes us to the heart of his new commandment. He had already taught his disciples his new and greatest commandment: Love God with you whole heart, mind, strength and soul, and love your neighbour as we love ourselves.

Now he goes one step further, building on the story of the Good Samaritan. Our neighbour is not only our relative, friend or acquaintance. Our neighbour, the person we must love, includes our enemy. Make no mistake about this. Jesus says it bluntly and clearly: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”

This, my friends, is as deep as it gets. No one can do that on their own. Only Jesus was able to do that perfectly. On the cross, he was forgiving those who had tortured him and were now crucifying him: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they are doing.” Notice that Jesus did not do that alone either – he prayed to the Father to give him the strength, and that divine strength and forgiveness was given to him.

Now Jesus asks us to do the same. To seek his Kingdom, to live in his Kingdom, is to be like him, to do what he did. To add certitude to what he said, at the end of the gospel Jesus adds: Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. That is more accurately translated as, “Be as compassionate or as merciful as is our heavenly Father.”

That is only possible for us if we hang on to Jesus, pray to him for his Spirit every day, and gather together to worship him in Spirit and truth.

Velma was viciously abused by her ex-partner one day over the phone. She called me, crying, to share her distress. I encouraged her to live in the kingdom, to handle this crisis with faith. So, she wrote him a letter sharing her feelings about what happened with love, as Jesus asks us to do in Mt 18:15. Then she drove to a nearby community to give him the letter with her daughter, who got him out of a meeting. When he read the letter he said simply, “OK” and went back to a meeting. Her daughter was surprised there was not the usual fight between her parents, and Viola drove back full of peace. She was experiencing the signs that Jesus said would accompany his disciples as they teach the world to love: they would cast out demons, pick up snakes and drink deadly poison without being harmed; they would speak a new language, and they would heal the sick.

Viola had done that: choosing to forgive, she cast out the demons of bitterness and revenge; writing and delivering the letter, she picked up a snake and drank poison without being harmed, and communicating her feelings with love was a new language that her daughter noticed. A few years later, as he was dying of cancer, alienated from his family, she was the only one who stood by his bed and cared for him, healing the relationship between her, her children and their father.

The Eucharist we celebrate now is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. It is our kingdom food now, helping us live in the Kingdom of God and sending us out to love one another, including our enemies.

So, my friends, let us seek to live in God’s kingdom like contemporary saints, by truly loving one another and, if need be, forgiving those who by their hurtful behaviour and attitudes may have made themselves our enemies.

Updated: February 24, 2024 — 1:54 am

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