daily biblical sermons


THE KINGDOM OF PEACE THAT ALL PEOPLES DESIRE TO ENTER
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Thursday, Eleventh Week of the Year, June 16, 2016
Sirach 48:1-15, Psalm 96, Matthew 6:7-15


Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

 

"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).


This is the Lord's Prayer, the Our Father, the only prayer that Jesus himself has taught us, and so it is especially sacred and important for us his followers. It is a model for how a Christian should pray.


First of all, we note that it is directed to God, and specifically to God the Father. Jesus clearly wants us to pray directly to God. We should not feel that we are unworthy to directly address God when we pray, for this is what Jesus teaches his followers to do. Some will only pray to the Blessed Mother, the saints, and the poor souls in purgatory, and refuse to pray directly to God. This is a mistake. Correct Christian prayer should normally be addressed to God himself.


We should pray to God in the name of Jesus. "Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:13-14). "Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:23-24).


Authentic Christian prayer is addressed to God and is prayed in Jesus name. The Mass and the divine office are addressed to God, even on feast days of the saints and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This should be our model for our prayer. Many also pray directly to Christ, since he is God. The Jesus Prayer is directed to Christ and is a form of prayer that many use as an aid to contemplation.


In addressing God, we pray that his name be hallowed, that is, that it be held holy by us in the way we pray and live. If we live a sinful life, we are not sanctifying God's name by the way we live. So when we sin we need to ask forgiveness, because of the merits of Christ's death on the cross that made just reparation for our sins. God will then forgive us, when we invoke his death on the cross and cry out to him in faith, confessing our sins and promising that we will renounce our sin and amend our life. So we pray, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12).


We pray that God's kingdom may come, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). We want to live in God's kingdom, a kingdom of peace with God in our heart, a kingdom in which we are free from guilt, forgiven for all our sins, and where we live with God's light and love shining in our heart. And we want to radiate this love and light to all we come into contact with.


Jesus is the source of this kingdom. Because of his suffering for our sins on the cross, he enables his Father to declare us righteous and holy, for Jesus' suffering for our sins is counted by God as though it were our own suffering in reparation for them, when we put our faith and trust in him for our salvation. Christ's own righteousness is furthermore reckoned to us who believe and trust in him for our salvation, just as Abraham's faith was reckoned to him as righteousness (Romans 4:22-24).


Living in Christ's splendid righteousness, which now shines in our hearts, is living in the kingdom of God on earth. This is the kingdom that all peoples instinctively desire to live in. Yet there is only one way to enter this kingdom of peace with God in our heart. That one way is through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:36), for only he saves us from our sins and guilt that keep us out of this kingdom of peace in our heart and peace on earth.


This kingdom of peace is based on being at peace with God. That means being reconciled to him in spite of our sins and unworthiness. There is only one source of reconciliation with God. It is through the atonement worked by Jesus Christ, the only incarnate Son of God, by his vicarious death on the cross in reparation for all the sins of the world. Only his death reconciles human beings with God, and for this reconciliation to be effective in us it requires our faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:36, 18) and genuine, heart-felt repentance (Mark 1:14-15), with a firm purpose of amendment for all our sins.


Christ's death then does the rest. It pays our debt with the Father, because of our sins. Our debt is the suffering we owe God in just punishment for our sins. The only way we ourselves could pay that necessary debt of punishment would be to suffer forever in hell, but then we would not be saved. So Christ paid it for us, in our place, as our substitute, by suffering for our sins on the cross. By our faith in his atoning, vicarious death, we enter his kingdom of reconciliation and inner peace.


Christ's one righteous act on the cross justifies us. "Therefore, as through one man's [Adam's] offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act [Jesus' death on the cross] the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life" (Romans 5:18 NKJV). Christ's one righteous act was his vicarious death on the cross in reparation for our sins to make satisfaction for them before the Father.


This is the way God wants everyone of every people and culture to be saved. That is why he sent out his apostles as missionaries to the ends of the earth to preach this gospel of salvation, this basic Christian message, to every creature (Mark 16:15) and to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them all that Christ has taught us (Matthew 28:19-20).


This is the message we have been given by Christ to preach to the world. The only way people can know about Christ's salvation is through hearing it preached to them or reading about it, especially in sermons directed to them in books or through their computers and iPhones. This is because Christ's work of salvation is an historical event, not a philosophical or theological theory, and so people need to be informed of it by witnesses. These witnesses are Christ's missionaries, working now to preach the gospel in all parts of the world.


Those who accept their message with faith enter this kingdom, the kingdom of God on earth, a kingdom in which God's name is praised, his will is done, and his peace is experienced in the heart; a kingdom where one's sins are expiated, one's guilt is removed, and where each member of it tries to share this good news with others so that they too might be able to enter it.


Hence the members of the kingdom themselves become missionaries to make known to others the way to enter this kingdom, which all peoples everywhere instinctively desire to enter.

 

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