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]
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.