Tuesday 14 August 2012

Within You Without You

Reflection on Mark 10:13-15

 [13]And they brought to him young children, that he might touch them. And the disciples rebuked them that brought them. 
[14] Whom when Jesus saw, he was much displeased, and saith to them: Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God. 
[15] Amen I say to you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter into it.

Our Lord is clearly telling us here that before we can enter the kingdom the kingdom must first enter us. Elsewhere in Sacred Scripture we can see this point illustrated by analogy with the simple act of knocking upon a door.

 [20] Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Apocalypse 3:20

 [7] Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.
 [8] For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. 

Matt 7:7-8

So what is this kingdom that we must first receive before it can receive us? Well, a clue surely is to be found in the nature that we must have in order to receive it, that is we must be as a little child. And a further clue is to be found in that it knocks before waiting for us to decide to let it enter (or not). A little child is vulnerable and can be compelled to many things but the little child who receives the kingdom is not so compelled. So the kingdom is characterised by both power and gentleness in relationship to the one whom it courts. The kingdom is great, the child is small, the door is shut and only the child can will to open it; the inherent gentleness of the kingdom prevents it from opening it itself. That is, the omnipotence of God can be foiled by the weakness of the infant because the greatest of the powers of God is love and this can never be compelled.

So, the kingdom is a suppliant and a lover. What else can we deduce about it? The kingdom is a shared meal between friends, the invited and welcome guest with the delighted host. I with him and he with me is not simply stating the same thing twice. It is making clear that the kingly guest receives from his host the things of loving friendship and also gives the things of loving friendship. The place where they meet is a privileged space not because the great is humbled or the humble elevated but because each is naturally what they are by nature; loving souls being loving the one with the other, without interruption, in perfect happiness.

For the kingdom which enters in to be the same as the kingdom which we enter then a transformation must occur. We must be changed. Having received the loving suppliant so that He is within us then we must enter into Him for it is He, Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, who is indeed the Kingdom Himself. And we can do so only by becoming one with Him, by becoming, in a mystical sense, Him Himself.

 [18] But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 3:18

And this is another truth about the kingdom. We behold it.

 [17] That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation, in the knowledge of him:
 [18] The eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what the hope is of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.

Ephesians 1:17-18

The kingdom is light. It enters us through the eyes of our heart. It fills our heart with such a superabundance of light that we become light ourselves and so we become of the realm of the King ourselves. And the first step is to receive the light.

 I write this on the eve of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and in this matter of the kingdom as in so much else she is our guide and exemplar. At the Annunciation she received the kingdom within her in the Divine Person of the Son of God and at the Assumption she entered definitively in the Kingdom of light. May her example guide us and may her powerful intercession aid us as we seek in our little, little way to follow her path of conquest through submission to light and love. Amen