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Jesus Christ, inauguration and fulfillment of the kingdom of God

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on Jesus Christ
General Audience, Wednesday 18 March 1987 - in French, Italian & Spanish  

"1. "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mk 1:15). With these words Jesus of Nazareth began his messianic preaching. In Jesus the kingdom of God enters into the life and history of mankind, and it constitutes the fulfillment of the promises of salvation which Israel had received from the Lord.

Jesus was revealed as the Messiah, not because he aimed at a temporal and political dominion according to the mentality of his contemporaries, but because in his mission, which culminated in his passion, death and resurrection, "all the promises of God find their yes in him" (2 Cor 1:20).

2. In order to understand fully Jesus' mission one must recall the Old Testament message which proclaims the saving kingship of the Lord. In the canticle of Moses (cf. Ex 15:1-18) the Lord is acclaimed as "king" because he freed his people in a marvelous way and led them with power and love to communion with him and their brethren in the joy of freedom. Moreover, the ancient Psalm 29 bears witness to the same faith—the Lord is contemplated in the power of his kingship, which holds dominion over all created being and communicates energy, blessing and peace to his people (Ps 29:10). It is especially in the call of Isaiah that faith in the Lord as "king" appears completely permeated with the theme of salvation. The "king" whom the prophet contemplates with the eyes of faith "sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up" (Is 6:1), is God in the mystery of his transcendent holiness and merciful goodness whereby he is present to his people as the source of love which purifies, pardons and saves: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory" (Is 6:3).

This faith in the saving kingship of the Lord prevented the monarchy from developing autonomously in the people of the covenant as was the case in other nations. The king was the chosen one, the Lord's anointed, and as such, he was the instrument by which God himself exercised his sovereignty over Israel (cf. 1 Sam 12:12-15). "The Lord reigns," the Psalms continually proclaim (cf. 5:3; 9:5; 29:10; 93:1; 97:1-4; 146:10).

3. In front of the sad experience of human limitations and of sin the prophets announced a new covenant, in which the Lord himself would be the saving and royal guide of his renewed people (cf. Jer 31:31-34; Ez 34:7-16; 36:24-28).

The expectation of a new David whom the Lord will raise up as the instrument of the exodus, of liberation and salvation arose in this context (cf. Ez 34:23-25; Jer 23:5-6). From this moment onward the figure of the Messiah will appear in intimate relationship with the inauguration of the full kingship of God.

After the exile, even though the institution of the monarchy ceased in Israel, there was a continuous growth of faith in the kingship which God exercises over his people and which will extend even to "the ends of the earth." The Psalms which sing of the Lord as king are the most significant witness to this hope (cf. Ps 96; 99).

This hope reaches it high point when the eye of faith, looking beyond the time of human history, will see that only in the future eternity the kingdom of God will be established in all its power. Then, by means of the resurrection, the redeemed will be in full communion of life and love with the Lord (cf. Dan 7:9-10; 12:2-3).

4. Jesus referred to this hope of the Old Testament and proclaimed its fulfillment. The kingdom of God formed the central theme of his preaching, as the parables show particularly.

The parable of the sower (cf. Mt 13:3-8) proclaims that the kingdom of God is already at work in Jesus' preaching, and at the same time it directs one's gaze to the abundance of fruits which will constitute the superabundant richness of the kingdom at the end of time. The parable of the seed which grows of itself (cf. Mk 4:26-29) emphasizes that the kingdom is not a human work. It is solely a gift of God's love, which acts in the hearts of believers and guides human history to its definitive fulfillment in eternal communion with the Lord. The parable of the darnel in the midst of the wheat (cf. Mt 13:24-30) and that of the net cast into the sea (cf. Mt 13:47-52) show first of all the already active presence of God's salvation. Together with the children of the kingdom, however, the children of the evil one, the workers of iniquity are also present. The powers of evil shall be destroyed only at the end of time, and those who have accepted the kingdom shall be forever with the Lord. Finally, the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price (cf. Mt 13:44-46) express the supreme and absolute value of God's kingdom. Whoever understands its value is prepared to face any sacrifice and renunciation to enter the kingdom.

5. From the teaching of Jesus appears a very illuminating richness.

In its full and complete fulfillment, the kingdom of God is certainly of the future: "until the kingdom of God comes" (cf. Mk 9:1; Lk 22:18). The Lord's Prayer teaches us to pray for its coming: "thy kingdom come" (Mt 6:10).

At the same time, however, Jesus stated that the kingdom of God "has already come" (Mt 12:28); "it is in the midst of you" (Lk 17:21) by means of the preaching and works of Jesus. Moreover, from the whole of the New Testament it is evident that the Church, founded by Jesus, is the place where God's kingship is made present, in Christ, as the gift of salvation in faith, of new life in the Spirit, of communion in charity.

The intimate relationship between the kingdom and Jesus thus appears. It is so strong a relationship that the kingdom of God can also be called the "kingdom of Jesus" (Eph 5:5; 2 Pet 1:11), as indeed Jesus himself stated before Pilate by asserting that Jesus' "kingdom is not of this world" (Jn 18:36).

6. In this light we can understand the conditions indicated by Jesus for entrance into the kingdom. They can be summed up in the word "conversion." Through conversion the human person opens up to the gift of God (cf. Lk 12:32), who "calls you into his own kingdom and glory" (1 Thess 2:12); he welcomes the kingdom as a child (cf. Mk 10:15) and is prepared for whatever renunciation is required to enter it (cf. Lk 18:29; Mt 19:29; Mk 10:29).

The kingdom of God demands a profound or new "justice" (cf. Mt 5:20); it requires commitment in doing "God's will" (cf. Mt 7:21); it calls for the interior simplicity "of children" (cf. Mt 18:3; Mk 10:15); and it implies the overcoming of the obstacle constituted by riches (cf. Mk 10:23-24).

7. The Beatitudes proclaimed by Jesus (cf. Mt 5:3-12) could be called the Magna Carta of the kingdom of heaven which is given to the poor in spirit, to those who mourn, to the meek, to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, to the merciful, to the pure in heart, to the peacemakers and to those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. The beatitudes do not only indicate the requirements of the kingdom. First of all they manifest the work that God accomplishes in us by making us similar to his Son (cf. Rom 8:29) and capable of having his sentiments (cf. Phil 2:5 ff.) of love and pardon (cf. Jn 13:34-35; Col 3:13).

8. Jesus' teaching on the kingdom of God is witnessed to by the Church of the New Testament, which has lived it in the joy of its paschal faith. It is the community of the "little ones" whom the Father "has delivered from the dominion of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of his beloved Son" (Col 1:13). It is the community of those who live "in Christ," allowing themselves to be guided by the Spirit in the way of peace (cf. Lk 1:79), and who strive to avoid the works of the "flesh," and not "to fall into temptation," well knowing that "those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal 5:21). The Church is the community of those who proclaim by their life and words the same message of Jesus: "The kingdom of God has come near to you" (Lk 10:9).

9. "As the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her" (DV 8). The Church prays to the Father in every Eucharistic celebration that his kingdom may come. She lives in fervent expectation of the glorious coming of the Lord and Savior Jesus who will offer to the divine majesty "an eternal and boundless kingdom: a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, of love and of peace" (Preface of the Solemnity of Christ the King).

This expectation of the Lord is a constant source of confidence and strength. It stimulates the baptized, who have become partakers in Christ's royal dignity, to live every day "in the kingdom of the beloved Son," to bear witness to and proclaim the presence of the kingdom with the same works as Jesus (cf. Jn 14:12). The Council teaches that in virtue of this witness of faith, the world will be imbued with the spirit of Christ and attain more effectively its end in justice, charity and peace (cf. LG 36)."

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli francesi

Puisse cette catéchèse vous aider à vivre le Carême, à collaborer au Royaume de Dieu! Je salue tous les visiteurs et pèlerins de langue française, parmi lesquels j’ai remarqué les Frères Maristes et les Sœurs de Saint-Paul de Chartres en session de renouveau spirituel: je leur souhaite un fécond apostolat missionnaire! A tous les autres religieux et religieuses, aux prêtres, aux laïcs, adultes et jeunes, je donne de grand cœur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai pellegrini di espressione inglese

I would like to extend a special word of welcome to the Officers and men of the United States Navy and Marine Corps stationed aboard ships of the Sixth Fleet. I also greet most cordially the group of pilgrims from Korea.

* * *

In a particular way I welcome the priests and religious present today, especially the Daughters of Charity from various provinces, and the Brothers of Holy Cross accompanied by the students whom they teach at Notre Dame International School.

During the Lenten season the Church invites all of us to be converted in a fuller way and to be renewed in mind and heart. Lent is intended to be a time of hope and joy, a time when we draw nearer in love to our Crucified and Risen Lord I pray that this grace will be given to us all.

May the Lord bless you and your loved ones with his peace.

Ad un gruppo di studentesse giapponesi

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Dilettissime studentesse dell’Università Junshin di Kagoshima, vi ringrazio per essere venute a trovarmi anche quest’anno.

Auguro che il vostro studio di aggiornamento in Irlanda e in Italia porti tanti benefici risultati nella vostra vita.

Con questo augurio vi benedico di cuore.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Ai fedeli di lingua tedesca

Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüñe ich herzlich alle heutigen Audienzteilnehmer deutscher Sprache: aus Deutschland, Osterreich und der Schweiz. Ich grüñe die genannten Pfarrgruppen und besonders die zahlreichen Jugendlichen unter euch. Nutzt die jetzige Vorbereitungszeit auf das Osterfest, um dem Reich Gottes in euch selbst wieder mehr Platz zu geben. Sein Reich kommt in dem Mañe, wie wir seinem Willen und seiner Freundschaft in unserem Leben den Vorzug geben. Gott stärke euch dazu mit meinem besonderen Segen.

Ai pellegrini di lingua spagnola

Saludo ahora cordialmente a los visitantes y peregrinos venidos de España y de diferentes países de América Latina. De modo especial me dirijo a la Comunidad sacerdotal del Pontificio Colegio Mexicano de Roma, a los grupos de Religiosas Dominicas de la Anunciata, así como de Maestras de Novicias de las Religiosas Escolapias que, respectivamente, participan en Roma en un curso de formación permanente. A todos exhorto-cada uno desde su propia tarea de apostolado-a ser siempre testigos de la fe y del amor, para que el Reino de Dios sea una realidad cada vez más plena en vuestros ambientes.

* * *

Saludo igualmente a los feligreses de la Parroquia de la Encarnación de Almuñécar, Granada (España), y a un grupo de Oficiales de Bolivia presentes en esta Audiencia. Que vuestra visita a la tumba del apóstol Pedro os ayude a ser cada día ejemplo de vida cristiana en vuestra sociedad.

Ai pellegrini polacchi

Witam pielgrzymów Polski, także z emigracji, poczynając od księży biskupów: ks. bpa Edwarda Materskiego (Sandomierz-Radom), ks. bpa Albina Małysiaka (Kraków), ks. bpa Jana Wosińskiego (Płock). Prócz tego pielgrzymów z diecezji koszalińsko-kołobrzeskiej; z parafii Najświętszego Serca Pana Jezusa w Gdańsku-Wrzeszczu; nauczycieli z Wrocławia, “Logostu”; grupę, pokaźną, Polaków z polskiej parafii w Branschweig w Niemczech Zachodnich; uczestników grup turystycznych oraz pielgrzymów indywidualnych. Skrót dzisiejszej katechezy proszę przyjąć zarazem jako gorące życzenie, bo słowa Modlitwy Pańskie; są prośbami, ale są zarazem wielkimi życzeniami, które my sami sobie winniśmy składać wobec Boga i w imię Chrystusa. Kiedy się modlimy “przyjdź Królestwo Twoje”, to wtedy się modlimy o jakieś wielkie dobro człowieka, życia ludzkiego, powołania ludzkiego, powołania osób i społeczeństw. Dzisiaj pragnę z wami razem o to dobro się modlić dla wszystkich, dla naszej Ojczyzny. Niech Kościół w Polsce, tak jak i Kościół na całym świecie, będzie tym miejscem, na którym przez posługę Słowa, Sakramentów, przez życie według ośmiu Błogosławieństw w duchu Chrystusa to Królestwo Boże stale się realizuje i przybliża.

Ad alcuni gruppi di pellegrini italiani

Desidero ora rivolgere un particolare saluto al folto gruppo di pellegrini provenienti dalla parrocchia dell’Immacolata Concezione di Camerano, in provincia di Ancona. Essi sono venuti insieme con le Autorità cittadine.

Vi ringrazio, cari fratelli e sorelle, per la visita e per i copiosi doni che avete voluto portarmi a favore di quanti sono nel bisogno. Vi incoraggio nel vostro impegno di preparazione alla missione parrocchiale in connessione con l’ormai vicino Anno mariano.

Auspico che tale momento di grazia sia anche per la vostra parrocchia di stimolo ad un rinnovamento personale e comunitario.

A tutti la mia Benedizione, che estendo anche ai vostri cari e all’intera comunità parrocchiale.

* * *

Saluto poi il gruppo di pellegrini di Pavullo nel Frignano, in provincia di Modena, qui presenti con le Autorità cittadine e gli organizzatori della III Rassegna internazionale del Presepio recentemente svoltasi all’Arena di Verona.

Auguro a tutti voi un cammino sereno e fruttuoso sulle vie di un continuo progresso umano e cristiano. Vi benedico di cuore.

* * *

E’ presente in questa Udienza un gruppo di Suore, di Allievi, ex-Allievi, insegnanti e collaboratori della Scuola per Infermieri Professionali “ San Giuseppe ”, di Roma, che celebra, in questi giorni, l’ottantesimo anniversario della fondazione.

Cari fratelli e sorelle, amate la vocazione impegnativa e bella di servire i sofferenti, e vivete la vostra missione con spirito cristiano, alla luce del grande insegnamento del divino Crocifisso.

Con questi sentimenti imparto alla vostra opera ed a tutti voi la mia Benedizione.

* * *

Saluto anche i gruppi di militari qui presenti: gli Allievi della Scuola di Motorizzazione di Roma; militari dell’Esercito di stanza presso la Caserma “ Castro Pretorio ” di Roma; avieri di stanza presso la Caserma “Romagnoli” di Roma; un gruppo di Allievi Sottufficiali della Marina Militare di Taranto.

Benedico di cuore voi tutti e i vostri cari.

* * *

Un caro saluto desidero rivolgere pure ai soci degli Interact Clubs ed ai Rotariani provenienti da varie città d’Italia. Anche a voi un cordiale benvenuto. Auguro che la vostra attività sociale possa contribuire sempre di più, secondo le sue finalità, allo sviluppo morale, civile e culturale del Paese, mentre di cuore vi benedico, insieme con tutti i vostri cari.

Ad un gruppo di poeti giapponesi

Sono molto lieto di salutare gli illustri scrittori di poesia “ Haiku ” e, nello stesso tempo, li ringrazio per essere venuti a trovarmi qui in Vaticano.

Mi è stato detto che “ Haiku ” è un genere di poesia che, pur nella brevità della composizione, contiene un significato profondo. Ebbene, auguro che la vostra poesia possa contribuire all’elevazione spirituale dell’umanità e che possiate suscitare nei vostri lettori il gusto della bellezza e dell’arte.

Di nuovo un vivo ringraziamento a voi.

Ai giovani

Un cordiale saluto desidero rivolgere a voi, giovani presenti a questa Udienza, augurandovi che in questo tempo liturgico di Quaresima rispondiate con generosità all’invito della Chiesa, che esorta tutti alla conversione interiore, che consiste nell’orientare tutta la nostra vita secondo le indicazioni e le esigenze del messaggio di Gesù.

Che la vostra giovinezza sia sempre illuminata dalla fede, confortata dalla speranza ed animata dalla carità.

Agli ammalati

A voi, ammalati, che portate nel vostro spirito e nel vostro corpo i segni della sofferenza e dell’infermità, porgo il mio affettuoso saluto, che accompagno con l’esortazione ad unire il vostro dolore a quello di Cristo, che la Chiesa in questo periodo quaresimale ci invita a contemplare come il “ Servo sofferente ” di Dio, profetizzato nel Libro di Isaia. Sia Gesù crocifisso a dare al vostro cuore le consolazioni interiori che solo Lui sa offrire.

Agli sposi novelli

Anche voi, sposi novelli, che avete consacrato il vostro amore nel Matrimonio, va il mio sincero saluto unito all’auspicio che, corroborati dalla grazia del Sacramento, sappiate costruire, giorno dopo giorno, la vostra famiglia nel vicendevole affetto, nella fedeltà, nella disponibilità, nello spirito di sacrificio e dedizione e, in particolare, nell’esemplare testimonianza di vita cristiana. Affido i vostri ideali e i vostri propositi a Maria Santissima e a San Giuseppe, suo castissimo Sposo e celeste Patrono della Chiesa Universale, del quale celebreremo domani la solennità liturgica.

A tutti voi va la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

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