Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Homilies on the "Lord's Prayer", Also Known as the "Our Father" (3 of 9)

...continued from part two.

"Your Kingdom Come"

The second request of the Lord's Prayer is "Your Kingdom come", that is, we supplicate God to send His Kingdom or for His Kingdom to come.

Much has been written about this request, in regards to what the Kingdom of God is and how the Kingdom of God comes to man and the world. Here in this brief homily we will present the interpretive analysis of the Holy Fathers.

One interpretation of the coming of the Kingdom of God is for the Second Coming of Christ to come quickly so that Christ can come and judge the world, meaning that this day would come so the bodies of all will rise from the dead and their judgement will begin. Such a request is the request of a grateful child, who is not fixated on visible things, but they hasten to the Father and desire future things. Such a search is the fruit of a good conscience and a soul that has been set free from earthly things. And indeed, as it is interpreted this way, the one who has this love for the coming of the Kingdom of God, or His Second Coming, does not become puffed up and boastful for the goods of this life, nor are they humiliated and overwhelmed over the sad events of this life. They feel as if they are in exile in a strange land, and they expect to return to their homeland.

The early Christians, as well as all authentic Christians who are nostalgic for this Kingdom, desire the coming of Christ and to unite with Him like it is done in a wedding, since now they feel their spiritual betrothal to Him. This of course requires internal purity, and to not be rebuked by our conscience. The Apostles characteristically wrote that the Kingdom of God is near, which means that they lived eschatologically. And the Apocalypse ends with the cry: "Come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20).

The other interpretation of "Your Kingdom come" is for the Grace of God to come into our hearts. Christ would say: "The Kingdom of God is within you" (Lk. 17:21). "Within you" does not indicate that it is in our midst, but within our hearts. Of course, whoever has the Grace of God within their hearts feels the communion between them. They feel the Kingdom of God as a spiritual state, and not as a psychological or emotional upsurge during the Divine Liturgy or during divine worship in general. Moreover, during the Divine Liturgy, according to the interpretation of the Holy Fathers, there are eschatological references, that is, it refers to the experience of the Kingdom of God that will happen in all its fullness in the future.

The Kingdom of God within us comes when we open our hearts and accept in various ways the Grace of God. This begins with repentance, when the Grace of God burns away the passions and we feel it as a caustic energy. Then, this Grace increases with inner gladness and joy, when a person will constantly remember the name of God and pray to Him, and their nous illuminates, it shines. And finally, when a person is made worthy by God to see Him within His Light, then that person sees the Kingdom of God.

This is shown in the Holy Gospels. Before His transfiguration, Christ told His disciples that there were some among them who would not die before seeing the Kingdom of God, which will come "with power". Soon after He took three of His disciples up Mount Tabor and was transfigured before them, so that His disciples saw His face shining like the sun and His garments became white as light. According to the interpretation of the Fathers, this vision of Christ in Light was a vision of the Kingdom of God.

In our lives we must be seekers of the Kingdom of God. First we must receive it in our hearts, together with the purifying, illuminating and deifying energy of God, and then also we will enjoy it in the future. Or it can happen the other way around. When we are nostalgic for the coming of the future Kingdom of God, it will make us desire it, so that it will lead us to repentance and we will have a foretaste of it in this life. Hence, the Kingdom of God has come with the incarnation of Christ, it comes with our repentance and communion with Christ, and it will come at the Second Coming.

Unfortunately, many of us want earthly kingdoms, powers and joys, as we also want to set up our own kingdom and not to have the Kingdom of Christ prevail on earth. But we must change our behavior and seek the Kingdom of God in the manner mentioned above, in order to conform with the "spirit" of the Lord's Prayer.

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