Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Many times we have spoken and heard the Gospel at different times express ideas about the reign of God, the kingdom of heaven. What do we mean by that reign of God, what Jesus spoke about at the very beginning of his public life? “The reign of God is at hand. Change your lives. The reign of God is ready to break forth into human history in its fullness.” We can speak about the reign of God as God’s dynamic role of saving love over all of creation, over each one of us, over all of humanity, where God’s love becomes the dynamic force energizing all of us and all of creation. The reign of God is the human community embracing God’s saving love made present in Jesus.

I think if we listen deeply to our second lesson today, in very beautiful prophetic words, the seer John describes the reign of God: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away. No longer was there any sea. And then I saw the new Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven, and a loud voice came from the throne: ‘Here is the dwelling of God among mortals. God will pitch God’s tent among them. They will be God’s people and God will be God with them — Emmanuel.'”

That’s the vision of what God is bringing about — a new creation, everything made new, given fullness of life and energy. What happens then is we experience in this fullness of life joy beyond anything we can even speak of or imagine. “God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death or mourning, crying out or pain, for the world that was has passed away.”

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