GOD OUR GOAL

Dr. Rudolf V. D'Souza, OCD

The childhood of Jesus has been an important theme for Christians from the very beginning. Christians have always longed to express their profound reverence for the incarnation of our God and Lord Jesus Christ. This pious desire was inspired not only by the Gospels but also by apocryphal texts such as the pseudo-gospels of James and Thomas. The Divine Child was already venerated by church fathers such as St. Athanasius or St. Jerome. Others who held the childhood of Jesus in great honour included St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Francis of Assissi, and St. Anthony of Padua. During the Baroque period there was St. Theresa of Avila, in particular, who took the Infant Jesus with her when she founded new monasteries. In Spain in her time this cult met with a great response.

Whenever we express our reverence to Jesus, it is not a reverence as we often offer to any saint or angel, but it is a deep desire to delve deep into the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption. We certainly know that the things Jesus taught are more important than anything else. He gave us a complete way of life, which he summed up in one sentence, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." [Mt. 7.12]

God's Kingdom

One of the great themes of his teaching was God's kingdom. His claim was, :The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news." [Mt. 1.14-15]

This is a reminder to all of us that the world is no out of control. God is still in charge, but he has given us free will. We are not like machines wound up by God. Rather we are free and yet ruled by a King, and that is God. When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God it was to invite people to submit themselves to it. Jesus told parables to illustrate what He meant by God's kingdom.

The Parable of the Sower

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop - a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." [Mt 13.3-8]

Obviously the resulting crop depended on the kind of ground that the seed fell into. What Jesus meant here is that if our hearts are hard, bitter, and filled with pride and self sufficiency, then even if the good seed comes to us, even if we hear and learn about His kingdom, we won't accept it. However, if we accept God's will in our lives, the Kingdom of God will be within us.

A Hidden Treasure

On another occasion Jesus told of a treasure hidden in a field. A merchant found it "...and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought the field." [Mt 13.44]. It is true that when we find the Kingdom of God, we receive much joy, but there is a price to be paid. Our becoming a member of the Kingdom of God, and following Jesus may offend many people. Our honesty may well make some people around us uncomfortable. We may lose friends, brothers and sisters. Our families may well turn against us. Joining this Kingdom of God may mean the loss of a job, imprisonment, or even death. Jesus recognizes that you may have to pay a high price to come into this Kingdom but it is still well-worthwhile.

Once some of the Jewish leaders from the sect of the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come [Lk 17.20-21]. Jesus replied, "The Kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, 'Here it is', or "There it is,' because the  kingdom of God is in you."  Many people who were listening to Jesus were longing for a political revolution. They wanted Jesus to be their Messiah in a political sense, to overthrow Roman rulers and release Palestine from its bondage. Jesus refused such a demand because that was not the real problem. Mankind's fundamental problem is not political. It is sin.  Jesus came to deal with sin [Jn 6.15] According to him, God's kingdom was a universal kingdom, not restricted to a particular people. Therefore Hw told them that this kingdom is within men's hearts.  It was not something that was going to be established in the future, but something that was being established there and then.  One can become a member of this kingdom by following Jesus and His commandments.

The Parable of the Lost Son

Jesus did not tell this parable just to entertain the people ho were around Him.  He intended to show that God receives even the wicked person who repents and turns to Him, because He wants every one to be saved and come to Him through Jesus.  In the parable we see how one may turn away from God to find his own way of adventure and folly.  However God in his ,mercy and kindness awaits and leaves the door open for every sinner.

King of Kings

Through the Sermon on Mount, Jesus, gives us good counsel on the way to true happiness, the settling of quarrels, how to avoid immorality, how to deal with those showing enmity, the true practice of righteousness free from hypocrisy, the right attitude toward the material things of life, confidence in Go's generosity, the golden rule for right relationships with others, the means for detecting religious frauds, how to build for a secure future.  The crowds were "astonished at His way of teaching; for He was teaching them as a person having authority, and not as their scribes." (Matt 7.28-29).

Why should learning from Jesus be the only way to inherit the Kingdom of God? It is because He is the king of the kingdom.  He did not act like worldly leaders.  He introduced a totally different concept of leadership through his practical life of love and teaching.  He advised his disciples: "whoever wants to become great among must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be serves, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mk 10.43-45]  He demonstrated this concept by washing the feet of His disciples [Jn 13.4-17].  Later He gave his life for them and for us.  On the other hand he did prove his authority and trustworthiness by the many signs He provided, and by the many prophecies He fulfilled particularly by getting out of the tomb [Rom 1.4; 10.9).  This is what Jesus teaches whenever we approach him whether as Infant Jesus or Master Jesus or Teacher Jesus. 

2012 Society of Canadian Friends of Infant Jesus.

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