A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Hope for the Coming of the Kingdom

Fr Kevin Head SM

It’s early autumn as I write. The dark, dank days will become even darker and danker as winter takes hold. With such short days wrapped in dull cloud-cover, it’s easy to become despondent and worry about things we cannot do much about. Most of us get concerned about many things – all the sadness in the world and our own families. And even though significant advances have been made in science and technology, millions of people die of hunger each year. The world seems to be more and more violent, and global warming continues to cause environmental collapse.

We wonder how God can let some things happen. Like children killed in wars and car crashes, so many refugees drowning in the Mediterranean and being damaged psychologically and mentally in refugee camps, or people we know who are ill with Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis or motor neurone disease.

Where is God, and how is God working in all of this? Is God's kingdom coming to greater fullness, as our faith tells us it is doing?

When dark thoughts crowd our being, it is helpful to be aware of all the reasons that there are to hope: the idea of new life and spring; the kindness and generosity that people show to one another; the receding of the coronavirus; people acting with incredible selflessness and courage for the well-being of others and the good of creation; and that God never gives up on us, no matter how helpless and hopeless and sinful we feel.

The following quotations indicate the hope that imbues the life and thought of Pope Francis:

• Never believe the struggles here on earth are 'useless’. God never disappoints. He wants that seed he planted in everyone to bloom. God made us to flower, too.

• Every baby born is the promise of a life that once again shows it is stronger than death.

• Dream of a world still not seen, but will certainly come one day. Think of those who sailed oceans, scaled mountains, conquered slavery or made life better for people on earth.

• Nothing is more human than making mistakes, and these mistakes must not become a prison for you. The son of God came "not for the healthy, but the sick," so people should not be afraid to get up again and start over when they fall, because God is your friend.

• Live, love, believe, and with God's grace, never despair.

And this month, we celebrate the Assumption of Mary into heaven, the promise of how we will be, a sure cause of joy and hope for us. “[Mary] embodies the goal of our own journey - a sign of hope to all who travel the same path of faith and continue the work of Christ today. Where she has gone, we hope to follow” (NZ Catholic Bishops’ Statement, 24 May 1988, see pp 8 ff.).

After he called the Second Vatican Council, Pope St John XXIII realised just how big the job was. There were so many issues, complications, worries – and so much work to be done. He started losing sleep. He began to sleep again when he prayed, "Listen, Lord, this Church is yours, not mine. I'm going to sleep."

God’s kingdom grows slowly, in God’s good time. Our work is to do what we can do, as patiently as possible, and let God work. Trusting in God, the things we do for others – even the most minor things – become part of the flowering of God’s kingdom into its fullness.

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