Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 5-13; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23
“Faith is an act of a finite being who is grasped by, and turned to, the infinite.” – Paul Tillich
In this Gospel Matthew reports Jesus’ very first message as he begins to preach after being baptized, and after coming out of the wilderness of temptation. His message is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17) He does not say the kingdom “will” come near as if next year or even only in the afterlife. He is saying that it is already here in this life (see Greek below). The word “repent” simply means to turn again. It could mean to turn from sin. Perhaps more poignantly in this context it means to turn around and face the kingdom. There we find the infinite, who is luring and enticing us to a world beyond our imagination. Just turn and look. We don’t need to die to enter the kingdom. We just need to turn and look. Often in this world when we turn, we see the helpless, the sad, the lonely, and the deprived. Then we are repulsed and disgusted, and so we turn away. But all through the New and Old Testaments there is a clear message that God dwells in a special way with the marginalized and poor, poor in whatever way. So let us not turn away from the kingdom where God is, dwells, lives, and with whom God weeps. The kingdom of God is here now. Jesus was not mistaken. Let us repent, turn again, and walk into darkness, especially into the darkness of our suffering neighbors. It will be fine, because the darkness has seen a great light (Matthew 4:16).
Matthew 4:17 says “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” In the original Greek the verb is in what is called the “perfect tense.” That means that the action expressed in the verb has already taken place in the past and still has ramifications for, or continues into, the present. In other words, given this Greek form of speech, the kingdom of God has already come and is still here.
Kingdom of God now?
How can this be already?
Unlikely shines light.