What is the kingdom we are called to proclaim? Br. Nicholas Bartoli reflects on Jesus’ description of the kingdom being “within us” and shares how taking time to rest in stillness can help us to become aware of that kingdom.
Transcript: When we’re considering the first mark of mission, proclaiming the good news to the kingdom, one of the things that I think of right away is the question of what is this kingdom that we’re talking about. In the gospels when it talks about Jesus launching his ministry of proclaiming the good news, he summarizes it very succinctly. He says, “Repent for the kingdom of God is near.” And he says, “The kingdom of God is both within us and among us.”
Now for the sake of proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, it can be useful to start looking at what he means when he says it’s within us. And I think about these guys on the street corners with these big signs saying, “Repent, the end is nigh,” a sort of a pointer toward the fact that it’s sort of about something ending, and you can interpret this a lot of ways. But if the kingdom of God that we’re exploring today is something within us, then what could be ending? Well, I like to think of it as perhaps an end to those parts of ourselves that get in the way of realizing the kingdom within us. The kingdom of God is already there, and all we have to do is realize its presence. And it’s only a matter of finding those pieces of ourselves, the false selves, the ego, those kind of things that get in the way of recognizing it.
So how do we do that? Well, there are plenty of ways. But one of the ways that I think is an attractive alternative in terms of a life of prayer would be to rest in stillness, which is what we explore when we practice contemplative prayer. This sort of resting in stillness and listening, and in that quiet, learn how to let go of those pieces that are getting in the way, just being present for this kingdom of God that is within us.
I am reminded also of St. Francis who is often quoted as saying, “Proclaim the good news, and if necessary, use words.” So what we’re trying to do here is learn to let go of the things that get in the way of simply being the good news in the world. Being the good news by recognizing the kingdom of God within us, and through that way of being in the world, then foster the kind of kingdom that you want among us.
So the question we can ask ourselves is, “What are the kinds of things that we can let go of in order to foster this awareness of the kingdom within us?”
– Br. Nicholas Bartoli
Question: What can you let go of to foster “the kingdom within you”?
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.