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The Kingdom Within: Week 2 | Day 5

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.

Question: What can you let go of to foster “the kingdom within you”?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Listening Hand


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”?

Week 2 Activity: Listening Hand
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.

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26 Comments

  1. Sue on March 29, 2017 at 03:45

    I think I need to let go of unnecessary busyness, taking on too many things, allowing disorder/ procrastination , being judgemental.

  2. Elaine Taylor on March 18, 2017 at 08:41

    I love all the comments. So brave and true. Each one a reflection on my own fear and doubt. I felt so alone before, now I can see the first mark of love in action. No longer am I lonely.
    Thank you all for sharing.

  3. Stan Lewis on March 13, 2017 at 16:29

    What needs to end in my life? Unnecessary consumption, worry, fear, the feeling that I will never measure up. These are things that hold me back and prevent me from proclaiming the Gospel.

  4. Ruth West on March 10, 2017 at 16:24

    During Lent I add devotions, i.e. more reading of scriptures and non-fiction books and articles, but also, I give up those things which detract from having the time to do that. I have given up two of my favorite T V programs, which consumed about two hours a day. Along with prayer and some fasting, I feel my life has been, is being enriched.
    Re: the kingdom, there are so many examples given by Jesus in the New Testament. One I remember is that he told in a parable that the kingdom is like yeast being put into bread dough. This, to me, illustrates that it is true that the kingdom is within us. As yeast causes the dough to expand, so the kingdom within us causes us to expand in showing forth the Holy Spirit to others in our daily life.
    I read a question once which resulted in some serious self-examination: If you are being arrested for being a Christian, is there enough evidence to convict you? (O Lord, I hope so!)
    Thank you, Br. Nicholas, for this thought-
    provoking message.

  5. Adr on March 10, 2017 at 16:10

    Try to control others , to be right
    The need to be righteous

  6. fred on March 10, 2017 at 15:34

    control!!!!

  7. Pam on March 10, 2017 at 01:22

    I think that it is through prayer that we come to understand ourselves–our fears, our darkness, our struggles, and our resistance. If we listen well, we can begin to feel the various defenses and masks drop away. By having this encounter with ourselves, we begin the work of revealing us to God and God to us. We can then discover our incompleteness and emptiness. Then I can begin to see the God within. Etty Hillesum discovered that this road to self is the one that goes to God. Then we will find the God who is waiting for us.

  8. Lisa on March 10, 2017 at 00:50

    I could let go of old injuries and perceived slights. Constantly rehearsing the “he/she done me wrong” refrain separates me from God and doesn’t bring others closer to God’s loving embrace.

  9. Stan on March 9, 2017 at 21:34

    I have practiced solitary silent time for healing and contemplation for a number of years, although I accentuate it with very spiritual music. Just sit and be, eyes closed, and ears, heart, mind, and soul open. It’s amazing the things which you can learn, and the wonderfulness of full spiritual awakening. And I will be at complete peace with the universe, which can seem to last for days.

    But man, once you put a steering wheel in my hands … all that is instantly gone. Yes, I still need some help with patience.

  10. Cherie on March 9, 2017 at 19:42

    I need to let go of endless striving for yet more success and recognition. It drives me blindly through so many NOW moments, where God sits awaiting my presence, my notice, my recognition. I miss the blessings of the present moment. If I’m not careful, I’ll miss my life. And I certainly miss the opportunity to share the Good News of God’s presence among us and within us – with others AND with myself.

  11. Kristi Leighton on March 9, 2017 at 14:45

    I do feel it’s a challenge for most people to get rid of all the blockages within ourselves that prevent us from feeling the true nature of God inside us. We are so preoccupied by our lives, worries, fears, etc that it becomesVERY difficult to be totally still and quiet. I think this is where the practice of guided mediation or quiet prayer can come in. Personally it’s a great challenge for me to become totally still or quiet because there are so many things that demand my attention on a daily basis. But carving out the time to try is so important. I like the quote “be the change you want to see in the world.” It reminds me that if I want to share the good news then I have to portray that through my words and actions. It’s very hard to do most of the time but I try and practice kindness and compassion more than ever now.

  12. Verlinda on March 9, 2017 at 14:27

    Worry about things I have no control over; stress over things that aren’t worthy of stress; my temper, which flares when too many demands are placed on my time or when I feel like I failed.

    Enjoying what’s here now is what helps me live in the kingdom.

  13. gwedhen nicholas on March 9, 2017 at 10:52

    I can let go of a reluctance to contemplate. When I pray, I always am wordy. I need to learn the discipline of just sitting down and soaking in Gods’ Presence, so that I can be aware of Gods’ kingdom and act accordingly. Maybe my reluctance is what prevents me from sharing the good news that God loves me completely and unconditionally, and I can be more myself when I let His Kingdom flourish.

  14. Trish Borgo on March 9, 2017 at 10:20

    Fear of the unknown has caused me to worry. Sunday at the church I sent to the lesson that was preached was from the Book of Samuel and how David was chosen to be King of Israel. Of course it tells how David fought and killed Goliath and asking what giants do you need to slay? Later that evening while watching TV the same question came up and it hit me like a ton of bricks – I hear you Lord, but I don’t know what giant I need to slay. I’ve been studying it and I believe it’s the Giant of Worry. I was worrying about my future should something happen to my husband how would I survive without his income. Then I listened to a sermon on this subject and realized that this fear and worry of from the Enemy and that if I put my trust in God I will survive. I spoke with a friend of mine about this and she reversed the question – what would your husband do if you went before him? I had never thought of it that way. Thank you Jesus for standing by me as I struggle daily.

  15. Damon Hickey on March 9, 2017 at 09:09

    Where in Scripture does Jesus say, “The kingdom of God is both within us and among us”? Earlier translations of Luke 17 into English mistranslated the Greek word as “within,” but modern translations render it correctly as “among.” Saying that the kingdom is within us interiorizes and individualizes something that Jesus was very clear isn’t interior or individual. It’s corporate and public. It’s among us (plural). Unfortunately, English no longer has a plural “you” different from the singular “you.” If it did, we might see that most of the places where we think Jesus is talking to us singularly, he’s actually addressing us collectively. “Ask” (you plural, you all) “and you shall receive” is very different from “Ask” (you individual) “and you (individual) shall receive.”

    • Bryan Cook on March 10, 2017 at 07:22

      Thanks for this Damon…. enriching eye-openers…”among” for “within”, and “you” as a plural replacing the archaic plural “ye” is in “ye of little faith”. It seems that in the translated Bible, “you” is used both as singular and plural, so I have to be aware of this. However, I suspect that reading the passage once as a singular and again as a plural will serve in many cases to enhance my experience and give me greater insights of looking inwardly and being part of the collective human-kind.

  16. Suzanne Haraburd on March 9, 2017 at 08:35

    The feeling of nervousness and anxiety I get if I am not working on a task. Once morning prayers are over, I feel that I must constantly be accomplishing one of the unending list of tasks.

  17. Bryan Cook on March 9, 2017 at 08:24

    This is like my Monday ritual of cleaning our house and putting out the garbage sorted for recycling, except it happens everyday! I don’t want to do it, I procrastinate, it seems like a huge mountain but is really a molehill, I worry about it and sleep fitfully. I know my garbage…..pride and a huge ego, dishonesty, bluster and a false front, predujices, worries, excessiveness, failure to forgive myself though God has already done so through the sacrifice of His Son, perfectionism, always looking in the rear view mirror of my life, being too hard on myself……the list goes on, though the very act of writing it down has had a calming effect. I think that in my daily prayer and in the meditative times of walking, gardening, fishing and composing, I will try and put one of these at a time into the dust bin………

    • Doris on March 13, 2017 at 16:27

      Amen.

  18. Karl Shinn on March 9, 2017 at 08:23

    Get rid of self serving thoughts such as : how am I feeling, what am I going to do next, how is my pain level, and the list goes on and on.

    • Stan on March 9, 2017 at 21:12

      Ouch! This one strikes a nerve!

  19. Donna on March 9, 2017 at 08:14

    My fear of not doing things well enough, over planning and not trusting God’s guidance.

  20. Rhode on March 9, 2017 at 07:50

    …i too, would like to fear less, believe more. i would also like to let go of impatience and cynicism, fear of failure and criticism.. i am actively praying and working on releasing regrets, resentment and shame. the struggle is always to believe gods love is more, not less.

  21. Shirin on March 9, 2017 at 07:38

    I myself want to let go of “negativity”. Actually I am usually a very positive person when giving advice to other people around me. But when I reflect upon myself I sometimes don’t see the whole picture. When I manage to see the whole picture I can consider myself as a very lucky person.

  22. Nancy on March 9, 2017 at 07:34

    Quick to anger

  23. Kathy on March 9, 2017 at 05:25

    The biggest challenge for me is to let go of “worries”. If I trust God to handle all situations and accept the outcome, I know that I can better foster the “kingdom within me” simply because I will be able to focus my thoughts, words, and actions. Worries only weigh me down and actually ruin the joy that would surround that very day. This is much more difficult to do then it sounds and it is a daily struggle but one well worth the fight. This is an inner conflict that no one sees except for God. Perhaps it is a matter of trust but how can I not trust God? The struggle continues…

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