Updated: Oct 31, 2019
The kingdom of Heaven is at hand for you!”
I want that to be the first thing you all hear me say! “The kingdom of heaven is at hand for you!” This is the Good News that Jesus sent His first disciples out with – the proclamation that He Himself was already making from the beginning of His ministry. As disciples, this was what the first Christians shared with those to whom Jesus intended to go – to prepare their hearts to receive Him once He arrived, and to bring joy to them as they went out. The fact that these disciples did this, brought to them the immense joy of knowing that their names were written in heaven.
So, too with us. Jesus has chosen each and every one of you. He has looked at you with love and marked you as one of His own. By virtue of our Baptism, we have been given the new life of Christ, and we carry that life with us every single day, to every single person we meet. Jesus knows this – so should you!
Therefore, in His quest to encounter every person, the Lord also sends you and me out, to every town and place He intends to visit – not so that people can be so impressed with our cleverness or our personality. Rather, Jesus sends us out so that we can tell others about Him – about what He can do for them, how He can change their lives, what He has done for us all. The mark of the disciple of Jesus is that we receive that commission and that we go out joyfully to proclaim to others that the kingdom of heaven is at hand – now, here, for them.
I am just beginning my own part of that journey among you. As a Christian and as a priest, I have been sent out to proclaim that same message that Christ gave to those seventy-two. It is, by the way, the same message that He has given to each one of you as well. Now, we are blessed to go out together – not just two-by-two, but as a community of faith, as the people of Christ the King parish, to share with Glen Burnie and beyond the wonderful news that the kingdom of heaven is here among us.
And if this is true, then we also have the responsibility to show others what that kingdom looks like in reality. It is not enough to just say it; we need to live it. We need to be agents of reconciliation and unity, of compassion and forgiveness, of justice and welcome. This is what the kingdom of heaven is all about, because it is what Jesus is all about. Therefore, as disciples, it must be our constant care to remain close to Jesus, to get to know Him even better, and to encounter Him often.
Here, at the table of the Eucharist, as we have so many times before, we encounter Christ the King, who feeds us and strengthens us as His people. This Eucharist makes us like Christ by showing us what it means to be part of that kingdom of heaven. Without this opportunity to receive Jesus, we cannot go out, because we cannot truly be sent by the King. Without this Eucharist, we merely go out as ourselves, with our own agenda, in our own name, marred by our own sins. However, when we make Jesus the center of our experience, then we become accustomed to being sent by Him to every place He wishes to go. And, because we have been there, others will be prepared to receive Him with the same joy that we know.
Friends, it is my pleasure to begin this new journey together with you all. I wish you all the peace of Christ, as He has given it to me. I have already begun to receive that peace from you, and I look forward to making my home here. Together, may we experience the same joy that those first disciples knew as they returned from their mission; and may we also rejoice to know that our names are written in heaven.