Paragraphs 180 and 181 of the Pope's exhortation take up the theme of God's kingdom or God's reign, another example of how Jesus did not come to preach a Gospel devoid of social implications. After all, a kingdom of one wouldn't be much of a kingdom. Various men and women throughout human history have tried in vain to create empires that encompassed the entire world. In the late 19th century, Queen Victoria reigned over a British empire upon which the sun never set. She is but one example. The world has known its Alexanders, its Caesars, its Hitlers. All of them desired to reign supreme over the world or at least their part of the world. None of them were content with one subject or even one nation.
Jesus' message in its purest form is announced in the opening pages of the Gospel. "The Kingdom of God is at hand." (Matthew 4:23) It was first proclaimed by the Baptist, but Jesus took up the theme upon John's imprisonment and went on to make it the core of the Gospel. Jesus did not come to proclaim a personal relationship with God. He came to announce that his task and the task of the Church after him was to gather all people into God's Kingdom. As the Pope so emphatically states, Reading the Scriptures also makes it clear that the Gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God. Nor should our loving response to God be seen simply as an accumulation of small personal gestures to individuals in need, a kind of charity à la carte, or a series of acts aimed solely at easing our conscience. (Evangelii Gaudium, 180)
It comes down to this: Life would be much simpler if all we had to do was worry about ourselves. However, our faith in the Gospel demands that we push beyond the borders of our individuality and embrace the mission of the Church; namely, to make of all people disciples. Yet sometimes Christians give the impression that once they have accepted Jesus as their personal Savior, it is theirs to do nothing else but wait for the rest of the world to do the same.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator