A bit of Psalm for praise and thanks.
"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits -
who forgive all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."
Monday we spoke of the diplomatic mission of Kingdom ambassadors. The message of that mission is reconciliation with God, with ourselves and with others. For whatever reason, Christians have not yet completed that mission.
We are not alone in this mission, as no ambassador is alone. We have the full faith and credit of the Kingdom of God behind us. We have Jesus behind us. He promised, "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20). We have the Holy Spirit behind us. "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever -- the Spirit of truth" (John 14:16).
For reflection: Many people will be gathering with family this week. It is often our families with whom we most need to be reconciled. Can we humble ourselves and be the first to say, "I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?"
Let us pray. Jesus, there are people in my family whom I have hurt. Please open the door and help me to say, "I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?"
Kingdom ambassadors have a message from Christ to give to all the representatives and the governments of the world: reconciliation. An ambassador is never sent by the head of her government to the head of another government without a message. That message is reconciliation. Christ has reconciled us to himself (not even counting our sins against us). And now we, as his ambassadors, are called on to take that message to others. Christ makes his appeal through us. We are his spokesmen. We are the people he trusts with his message - be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
What better message is there than to be able to tell people that God loves them so much that all he wants is to be in a good relationship with them. He won't even count their sins against them. Just come, be forgiven, be reconciled. It is not the model of any worldly king. A human king wants you to prove yourself worthy of forgiveness, prove your loyalty, prove yourself ready to die for king and kingdom. In the heavenly kingdom it is the other way around. The king died for us that we might be made worthy. The king died for us to prove his loyalty. The king died for us that we might be forgiven. He wants us to sit in the heavenly places with him.
For reflecti0n: Christ says to us, "Come up. Come up out of the muck and the mire. Come, be reconciled. I have so much more for you. Won't you join me?"
Let us pray. My King and my God. (As we watch the video of women joyfully dancing to "King of Kings and Lord of Lords", let us consider with whom we can share the good news of reconciliation this week.)
In the Kingdom of God on earth, we are all citizens of the same Kingdom. We all believe in and work for the same King. We all have the same purpose. We live for him.
Until the fulfillment of that comes, Christians serve as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God. As with other ambassadors, wherever we are in residence, is the land of the Kingdom. When someone enters our home, they are entering the Kingdom. Wherever we go, we represent the King. In a real sense, the King and the Kingdom go with us. When we walk in a room, the King walks in the room because we are his designated representative. As St. Paul says, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us" (2 Corinthians 5:20). Ambassadors have the full faith of the King behind them.
For reflection: Do I carry the presence of the King and the Kingdom with me?
Let us pray. King of all creation, I bow before you. I acknowledge your kingship. You only want the best for your creation. With the saints and angels in heaven, I praise you. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
What else might we see or not see in the Kingdom? Paul mentions in his letter to the Galatians that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free" (Galatians 3:28). If there are neither Jews nor Greeks, then religious and political divisions are gone. They are gone because all are "sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized in Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (3:26-27). In the Kingdom the only designation that matters is that we belong to Christ. We don't belong to a religion or to a country. We don't belong to someone else. We cannot be bought or sold or given to someone else because we belong to Christ. So there is no slavery, no bondage, no sex trafficking. There are no religious or political wars. All are equal and treat each other with respect and love.
For reflection: This type of equality is difficult to imagine in our present situation where what country you belong to, or what religion you practice, or your sex determines much of your life. Let us open our minds to Christ, put on the mind of Christ, clothe ourselves with Christ. And imagine.
God loves us. It's so simple to say and so hard to really believe. And because God loves us he sent his son Jesus to be with us. Everything Jesus did was good and done on our behalf. He told of the good news of the kingdom to any who would listen. He ate with sinners; spoke with the unclean. Healed sick people and raised dead people. He cast out demons and calmed storms. He fed people with food and with word. He gave hope and comfort. He proclaimed a year of favor from the Lord and he lived it out.
Returning again to Luke 4:18-19 where Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2, the last part is "to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor". He was proclaiming the inauguration of the Kingdom of God on earth through his own presence. He was declaring a time of jubilee when all debts are cancelled, all slaves are freed, and all property returned to the original owners. It was a time of the equalization of people. Those who had fallen down the socioeconomic ladder were raised back up.
For reflection: In the Kingdom of God on earth there would not be such disparities between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots. What am I doing to bring about this aspect of the Kingdom of God on earth?
Let us pray. Jesus, you have a grand vision for the kingdom. It is hard even to imagine how to achieve equality among peoples in one country, much less around the world. What can I do? Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
What else can we know about the Kingdom? Jesus, quoting Isaiah, says it is a time "to release the oppressed" (Luke 4:18). In the Kingdom there is no depression, no mental illness, no suicide, no cutting. The only one who gives up hope is satan. There will be no addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling or pornography. There will be no eating disorders, no sexual disorders, no rape, no incest. Instead the Kingdom of God on earth is characterized by peace and harmony, respect for ourselves and one another because we are made in the image of God.
On one of the cop shows on TV recently there was a scene where a drug supplier was offered some of his own coke. His response was, "My body is a temple". I've heard that statement before by people who are promoting healthy eating and exercising. And it's a good message; we should treat our bodies well. But the statement "My body is a temple" had been truncated. It comes from Scripture. Paul says, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? . . . God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Further on he says, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
Our bodies are not temples in and of themselves, they are temples of the Holy Spirit. They are temples because we are made in God's image. So being afflicted with addictions, disorders, or oppressions is not part of the Kingdom of God.
For reflection: How is my mental state? What am I doing to keep hope alive? What is my physical state? How am I treating my temple of the Holy Spirit? How am I releasing the oppressed?
Let us pray. Infinite Creator, who looked on mankind and said, "It is very good", help us not to submit to the slavery of our appetites, the abuse of our own bodies or the bodies of others. You made us, we are yours. Jesus, thank you for paying the price of our freedom. Thank you for releasing us from oppression. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Another aspect of the Kingdom of God on earth, brought up by the typhoon, is that there will be no more destructive storms. We can deduce this because we have the example of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41). After Jesus simply speaks to the storm, "Quiet! Be still!", the wind dies and the waters are calm. Then he chastises the disciples for not having enough faith. They had not recognized that his miracle-working power extended to storms even though they had already seen him heal many people and cast out demons. As Jesus healed people, he taught them that "the Kingdom of God is near" so they should "repent and believe the good news" (Mark 1:15). This was a new kingdom, not like any other kingdom they had ever seen. Did they have the faith to believe it and to tell others about it and demonstrate how it was different?
For reflection: Do I believe that the Kingdom of God on earth is near? That it is different? Do I have the faith to calm storms? If I banded together with other people, would I have the faith to stop typhoons?
Let us pray. Jesus, I've never even prayed to stop a storm before. I've always just prayed for the people to endure and recover. Help me have the faith to believe and to act when there is a threat.
Let us pray today for the people of The Philippines who are suffering from the typhoon.
Father, we ask for a miraculous recovery for the people of The Philippines. That the food and water arriving will be more than sufficient, that the debris be cleared away more quickly than anyone thinks possible, that housing and workplaces be restored in the blink of an eye. We loose the storehouses of food, building materials, medicine and philanthropy around the world.
We also ask for healing for their loss of families, friends and loved ones. We ask for loving families to be found for all children left orphaned and new hope for the elderly who lost everything dear to them. Pour out your provision of hope and healing, Father, for those who are spiritually destitute, for those who don't know you. May this time of physical renewal also be a time of spiritual renewal.
What does the Kingdom of God on earth look like? Continuing with "proclaiming . . . recovery of sight to the blind" (Luke 4:18), what if recovery of sight meant physical healing instead of spiritual healing (or both spiritual and physical healing)? Jesus certainly made it a point to heal people while he was on earth and his mission was to proclaim the Kingdom of God on earth. So the healing of people with physical problems is evidence of the kingdom.
I doubt that all people in healing professions would proclaim that they are helping to bring about the Kingdom, but they are because all wisdom and knowledge comes from God. All ability to help and to comfort is from God. Inspiration for cures comes from God too. Aside from people in the healing professions, people who pray for the healing of friends and loved ones are helping to bring about the Kingdom because in the Kingdom there is no sickness (physical, emotional or spiritual). There is no more death, no more crying. No one weeps in the Kingdom.
For reflection: For whom do I need to pray today? If I see someone in the next few days, will I be open to God's prompting to pray with them in person? If I am in the healing professions, do I thank God every day for the privilege of helping to proclaim "sight to the blind". Do I know someone who is caring for a loved one at home? How can I offer a hand?
Let us pray. Heavenly Father, there is so much work to do in the area of healing to bring about your Kingdom. We need more knowledge of how the human body works. We need more inspiration for cures. How can I help?
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.