My daughter told me that the discussion of “the kingdom of heaven” was a little deep and hard to follow especially after a long, hard day. (She had also been discussing Ezekiel for an hour.) So, I will present the next discussion of the “kingdom of heaven” as bullet points for easier reading.
The Kingdom of Heaven II
In Matthew’s gospel, the theme: “the kingdom of heaven” develops along lines that are ethical, ecclesial, and eschatological.
The Kingdom of Heaven is ETHICAL: It call for a human response to Jesus.
- it summons hearers to repentance (4:17).
- it demands a lifetime of discipleship
- it spends that lifetime seeking the surpassing righteousness of Christ.
- spelled out in practical terms (5: 3-10; 5: 21-48)
- observance of the Golden Rule (7:10)
- an effort to live with childlike humility (18: 1-4)
- a willingness to forgive when others offend us (6:14-15; 18: 23-25)
- a commitment to prayer (6: 5-13)
- fasting (6:16-18)
- works of compassion (6: 2-4; 25: 35-40)
This means to me that if we build our lives on the teaching of Jesus (7: 24-27) we will come safely to the blessedness of eternal life (25: 31-46.) Now I understand why my spiritual adviser always directs me to Matthew (5: 1 — 7:29 and 25: 31-46) whenever I am struggling with any question of what I need to do. The Gospel of St. Matthew is truly the answer to the question “What Would Jesus Do?
We will look at how “the Kingdom of Heaven” is ecclesial and eschatological on Friday and next Monday.
5:6 those who hunger and thirst: those who yearn to live rightly according to the will of God. Their first priority is to seek the Lord’s Kingdom and righteousness as the most necessary sustenance of life. Ultimately they will be satisfied by God in eternal life.
5:7 the merciful: those who imitate the Father’s mercy by extending forgiveness to others. (Mt 18: 21-11, 33) The merciful are patient and understanding in bearing with others’ faults AND they are generous in aiding the needy by works of charity and compassion (6: 2-4; 25: 34-40) When the Final Judgment comes they will receive the mercy that lasts forever. (6: 14; Jas 2: 13) (CCC 2447)
The Works of Mercy (CCC 2447)
The Works of Mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. These are the spiritual works of mercy: instructing, advising, consoling, comforting, forgiving, and bearing wrongs patiently. These are the corporal works of mercy: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned and burying the dead. Among all of these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity; it is also a work of justice that is pleasing to God. (Cf Tob 4: 5-11; Sir 17:22; Mt 6: 2-4)
Study Question: Read James 2: 13-17. What does this mean in light of the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount?
Meditation: How can we use this Lent to spread God’s word?