Lent and the kingdom of heaven
In looking at the upcoming readings during the Sundays of Lent, it strikes me that we’re going to be talking a lot about the “kingdom of heaven”. Matthew uses the phrase kingdom of heaven thirty-two times, and is the only gospel writer who uses it at all. The other three use “the kingdom of God.” It is probable that Matthew used kingdom of heaven because it was more understandable to his primarily Jewish readers. Jews would not speak God’s name (Yahweh, or Jehovah), and would often substitute heaven when referring to God.
Many times throughout the Gospel of Matthew we hear this phrase: The kingdom of heaven is like… and it’s followed by some rather interesting things. The kingdom of heaven is like a sower, a mustard seed, yeast, a king giving a banquet, a landowner hiring workers, bridesmaids with lamps, a net, hidden treasure, and pearls. In the Gospel of Matthew, it’s like Jesus is throwing out to us all of these different ideas about the kingdom. And this kingdom of heaven points to so much more than just a place where we make our eternal home. This is about the reign of God right here and right now among us.
Lent is a time for renewal. We reflect on our lives as the baptized people of God and how we are acting and reacting to the world around us. Are we consistently proclaiming Christ through word and deed? Are we loving our neighbors and working for justice and peace? Are we generous givers? Are we being inward or outward with our time, talent, and treasure? Overall, how is the reign of God active and real within us?
May God bless our Lenten journey and move us into a greater sense of discipleship.
Peace, Pastor Derek