Reflection & Dialogue: The beginnings and growth of the kingdom of God and of the church, a growth beyond bounds, despite weaknesses and scandals.

A principle, and for some time past almost a catchword, among the learned and others is that Jesus proclaimed the kingdom and what resulted was the Church. It is true, of course, that Jesus preached the kingdom of God and that he did not mot use the term church, nor did he leave any constitution for the church that would emerge later. But he proclaimed the kingdom of God as the Father had wished him to do, and after he was anointed by the Holy Spirit at his baptism and acted under the guidance of that Spirit. It was under the guidance of the Risen Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, and in keeping with the will of the Father that the beginnings and the development of the church took place. Consequently, what Jesus says about the kingdom of God can be applied to the church.

This is particularly true of what is said about the kingdom of God in the parables presented to us in today’s readings, and in other parables as well. The church had small and weak beginnings but had tremendous growth and, so to speak, today many nations shelter in her shade.

But the development is not all in externals. The grace of God is within her as if it were a leaven, transforming her internally, the power and activity of the Holy Spirit transforming her from one degree on glory to another, as the apostle Paul would describe it.

In the media today there is rarely any reference to the church except in the case of some current or past scandal. This occasionally causes great upset to some believers, at times causing some to abandon the practice of the faith or to abandon the faith and the church altogether. They say that they can no longer see Christ in the Church. Such persons would be well advised to reflect on today’s parable of the good seed sown and the bad seed of cockle, darnel, and weeds over sown by the enemy. The parable represents an aspect of the kingdom and of the church of most ages, and will be so to the end of time. The Church of Christ is no assembly of saints, although all are called to holiness. It is a community in which the good, the less good and the bad exist side by side, often individuals of one kind become the other. Scandals, when they unfortunately arise, should not, cannot, show that the church we see is no longer Christ’s church. Scandals will come, but should not, and will not, impede the growth of the holiness that is proper to kingdom of God and to God’s Holy Church

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