The Kingdom of God is a Spiritual Reality
June 15, 2013 The Gospel shows us the power of the Spirit to give life. Let us continues today with the mission of the Holy Spirit during the Old Testament.
We have seen that the Spirit is creator. But the Spirit was also promised after the original sin, in order to restore human kind in the likeness of God. The promise to Abraham includes according to St. Paul the promise of the Holy Spirit (cf. 706).
The Holy Spirit is also revealed in the manifestations of God in the Old Testament, for example, during the time of Moses. "Christian tradition has always recognized that God's Word allowed himself to be seen and heard in these theophanies [manifestations of God], in which the cloud of the Holy Spirit both revealed him and concealed him in its shadow". Moreover, the gift of the Law, that gives knowledge of sin but is unable to save, "enkindles a desire for the Holy Spirit" (cf. 707-708). So the Holy Spirit was promised, was revealed in some way, and was desired.
Let us see the Holy Spirit at work. The Lord said to Israel: ""If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, . . . you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."ÿBut after David, Israel gave in to the temptation of becoming a kingdom like other nations", unfaithful to the Law. "The Kingdom, however, the object of the promise made to David,ÿwould be the work of the Holy Spirit; it would belong to the poor according to the Spirit. The forgetting of the Law and the infidelity to the covenant end in death: it is the Exile, apparently the failure of the promises. [This Exile, however,] is in fact the mysterious fidelity of the Savior God and the beginning of a promised restoration, but according to the Spirit. The People of God had to suffer this purification."
Israel expected a salvation and a kingdom according to the flesh. They expected a good harvest, welfare, victory over their enemies, control and power over the other peoples. But the promise of God was not a kingdom according to the flesh. God promised that they would be a holy nation. God promised them a harvest of good works, victory over sin, control of the powers of evil. That is why the catechism says that God accomplished his promise according to the Spirit, in those who were faithful to him, despite the apparent failure. Those people were the poor in spirit.
The kingdom of God is God ruling over me, and I ruling over my passions according to the law of God. The kingdom of God is a reality when I live according to the law of his kingdom, which is love. Therefore, when I overcome my evil tendencies, when I refrain my tongue from insult and gossiping, I win a victory over the enemies of the kingdom. When I overcome the misfortunes of life and keep my faith, God reigns in me, and I rule over the world. This is the kingdom of God. It is not according to the flesh, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
Many times we fail to recognize this truth in our prayers. We say "Thy kingdom come", but how many times do we ask for our spiritual growth, for virtues, or for the forgiveness of our sins? Is it not true that we usually ask for health and other things of this earth? It is not bad that we do so, but our problem is that when things don't go well in our life, we think that God is not the king, that he is not powerful enough, that he has left us alone. and we don't realize that perhaps in that very moment, he is giving us the most precious gift. The kingdom of God, our good and our life are spiritual, they are the work of the Spirit, they are not according to the flesh. But it does not mean that they don't make you happy. It is precisely because spiritual things fill your heart, precisely because of this, that they give you a happiness that not even death can take away from you.
The Catechism says "The People of God had to suffer this purification" and says also that the Exile is a figure of the Cross. Without the Cross there is no redemption. Without the Cross there is no real happiness. Sometimes when we suffer we understand that our happiness cannot be found on earth. Sometimes it is in that moment that we purify our understanding of life and our understanding of faith. Faith is not something that ensures that you will live forever on the earth, but that you will have eternal life, which is much better. Faith does not promise you the happiness of a man, but the happiness of God. Faith does not necessarily fill your stomach, but your heart. Faith makes you happy in a way that the world cannot understand, because it is true. The world lies to us with its fake happiness and then leaves us empty. God instead, I don't know how, promises us that we will suffer, and then he gives us a joy that nobody can take away from us.
May the Lord grant us faith to understand these things. The Kingdom of God is something spiritual. Our real happiness is something spiritual. Faith is a treasure. We have to pray for spiritual growth, and not only for earthly things. May the Holy Spirit give us life, may he give us that joy that no one can take away from us. -Fr. Andrew