Sunday the Eighth

“But seek first the kingdom of God (τὴν βασιλείαν [τοῦ θεοῦ], ten basileia tou Theou) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides (Matthew 6:33).”
     What is the Kingdom of God? Where is the Kingdom of God? Who is the Kingdom of God? The list of questions can continue into eternity, not to mention the scholarly opining attempting a clear definition. Additional confusion clouds matters when reference is made to the “Kingdom of Heaven,” a phrase often found in the Matthean Gospel perhaps due to respect for the Divine Name among the original Jewish-Christian audience.
     The Greek word βασιλεία (basileia) is not so much about a temporal place as it is about a way of living. As used in the Greco-Roman world of Jesus’ day, βασιλεία conveyed an active experience of ruling. People, especially those living in Roman occupied territories KNEW exactly what a βασιλεία was all about. The Roman Kingdom was about exacting tax and lording authority over all, especially the poor and the marginalized. It is for this reason that Jesus’ proclaiming of the Father’s βασιλεία is so revolutionary. Abusive power, whether wielded by some civil authorities of Rome or some religious authorities of Jerusalem, had now met its match and more: its Conqueror.
     Thus Jesus’ command to “seek first the Kingdom of God” is not about packing up and moving, it is about embracing a new way of living. It is a way of living that asks each to examine closely how power is used, especially in regard to other people - AND - most especially in regard to the poor and marginalized of society. 

Employing some of Jesus’ practical advice in His last discourse in the Gospel according to Matthew [(25:31-45) also known as the “Corporal Works of Mercy”] is a marvelous starting point for experiencing the βασιλεία as a way of living.

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