“May the God of Peace make you perfect in holiness.”
Isaiah paints a picture of the Kingdom of God come in its fullness. God, like a loving father, bends down to his crying child, places his hand under her chin and bids her look up into his eyes of compassion; her broken heart is mended. Those once bound now dance to the everlasting song of freedom. Jubilation rings throughout the land as the reign of justice flows forth to every nation. Even creation sighs in relief as years of degradation are rolled back.
Paul, however, is mindful that Isaiah’s vision of the Kingdom of God is not yet but looks to its coming with the return of Jesus. But John tells us that the Messiah is already come. The kingdom is therefore among us. And yet we can readily see that Isaiah’s vision is not present before us. The Kingdom of God has thus been described as “Already/Not Yet.” It is here already wherever the spirit and ministry of Jesus the Messiah are made manifest. Every time there is action on behalf of the peace of Jesus the Messiah and the justice of God, then the Kingdom of God breaks forth into that time and place. These outbreakings of the Kingdom give us hope and spur us on to further activity. They become seeds which will eventually spring up in a bountiful harvest of jubilee. But we should not expect to be able to bring about the total fulfillment of the Isaian vision. The Kingdom of God is Not Yet complete and will not be so until the return of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.
How then are we to live in the meantime? The Not Yetness of the Kingdom leaves us in the midst of many conflicts and injustices. How are we to go about demonstrating the Alreadiness of the Kingdom — working to see the outbreaking of God’s light into our darkness? Paul answers this by presenting a three step model for Kingdom making; prayer, study, and action. Through contemplation we find ourselves one with God and in solidarity with those whom He loves, especially the poor and most vulnerable. Through study, the Holy Spirit and God’s word help us to discern the present reality and how we are to respond to it. Endued with hope through prayer, focused with clear vision through study, we are empowered for action: action which characterizes the God of peace. Paul’s model for Kingdom making enables us to do in each situation what we believe Jesus the Messiah himself would do.
Third Sunday of Advent Is. 61: 1-11; I Thes. 5: 16-24; Jn. 1: 6-28
Peace Connections: Making the connection between the Sunday Readings and issues of peace and justice. Copyright 1995, by Thomas L. Garlitz. “Not for profit” permission to reprint granted.