The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God

by Norm Tanck, CSB

We have arrived scripturally and liturgically in Jerusalem. There are two alternate Gospel readings for the blessing of Palms (Mk 11:1-10 and Jn 12:12-16) that remind us that Jesus had come there as crowds of pilgrims were gathering to celebrate the Feast of Passover. For the Jews this was a feast that celebrated their freedom from slavery in Egypt but also looked forward to the time when Messiah would come and free them from the oppression of the Roman Empire. It would not be too much of a stretch of the imagination to see Jesus’ arrival as a protest march confronting the Empire, proclaiming that its power would end, hopefully soon. But it is much, much more than that. Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus arrives riding a colt, which could be a horse (only Matthews’s Gospel says it’s a donkey). He comes riding in like a king, while people place their cloaks on the ground, a gesture usually reserved for royalty. At the same time, they are waving leafy branches and shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!”. That kingdom would come sooner than, I am sure, the crowds may have expected or hoped for. But it would be much different than the kingdom of their dreams. It would be a kingdom that transcends political powers and boundaries. It would be an eternal, universal kingdom of justice and peace. A kingdom where even death would not hold God’s people captive. It was the Kingdom of God. When we read about the suffering and death of Jesus today and on Good Friday it is important for us to look beyond the Cross, and even the Resurrection, to see that the Kingdom of God is breaking through and that we have been invited to live in it forever. The Triduum (Holy Thursday through to the Easter Vigil) is a celebration of our liberation from sin and death and of our citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

Sunday’s Readings:

Isaiah 50.4-7

Psalm 22

Phillippians 2.6-11

Mark 14.1-15.47

Joy in the Family

Joy in the Family

by Fr. Norm Tanck, CSB

The Gospel for this weekend’s Feast of the Holy Family ends by telling us that, “When Mary and Joseph had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him”. We can assume that not only Jesus grew and became strong, but also that Mary and Joseph continued to mature and that as a family they grew stronger because of their love for one another and their desire to be obedient to God’s plan for them. Their obedience and love for each other gave them hope in the face of adversity and filled them with joy in ordinariness of everyday life. It was their love for one another that sustained them through difficult times. We can look to Mary and Joseph as an example and model of a family in distress as they were forced by conditions beyond their control to flee from Bethlehem to Egypt and move from place to place before they were able to settle in Nazareth. It was their love that brought them moments of peace and consolation in the hardscrabble life in a small Galilean town. And it is their love that is the model for Christian families today and a model for us as a Christian community. Reflecting on the Holy Family, Pope Francis said, “The true joy which is experienced in the family is not something random and fortuitous. It is a joy produced by deep harmony among people, which allows them to savour the beauty of being together, of supporting each other on life’s journey. However, at the foundation of joy there is always the presence of God, his welcoming, merciful and patient love for all. If the door of the family is not open to the presence of God and to his love, then the family loses its harmony, individualism prevails, and joy is extinguished. Instead, the family which experiences joy — the joy of life, the joy of faith — communicates it spontaneously, is the salt of the earth, and light of the world, the leaven for all of society.”

Sunday’s Readings:

Genesis 15.1-6; 17.3b-5, 15-16; 21.1-7

Psalm 105

Hebrews 11.8, 12-13, 17-19

Luke 2.22-40