Catechism of the Catholic Church: Definition of the Kingdom of God

“The kingdom of God is at hand”

541 “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching
the gospel of God, and saying: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom
of God is at hand: repent, and believe in the gospel.'”246 “To carry out
the will of the Father Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on
earth.”247 Now the Father’s will is “to raise up men to share in his
own divine life”.248 He does this by gathering men around his Son
Jesus Christ. This gathering is the Church, “on earth the seed and
beginning of that kingdoms”.249

542 Christ stands at the heart of this gathering of men into the “family
of God”. By his word, through signs that manifest the reign of God,
and by sending out his disciples, Jesus calls all people to come together
around him. But above all in the great Paschal mystery – his death on
the cross and his Resurrection – he would accomplish the coming of his
kingdom. “and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men
to myself.” Into this union with Christ all men are called.250
The proclamation of the kingdom of God

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the
children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of
all nations.251 To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:
The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field;
those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of
Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the
seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.252

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those
who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good
news to the poor”;253 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the
kingdom of heaven.”254 To them – the “little ones” the Father is
pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the
learned.255 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the
cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.256 Jesus identifies
himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them
the condition for entering his kingdom.257

545 Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to
call the righteous, but sinners.”258 He invites them to that conversion
without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word
and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in
heaven over one sinner who repents”.259 The supreme proof of his
love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.260

546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of
parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching.261 Through his
parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks
for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything.262
Words are not enough, deeds are required.263 The parables are like
mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word?264
What use has he made of the talents he has received?265 Jesus and the
presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the
parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of
Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”.266
For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.267

The signs of the kingdom of God

547 Jesus accompanies his words with many “mighty works and
wonders and signs”, which manifest that the kingdom is present in him
and attest that he was the promised Messiah.268

548 The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him.
They invite belief in him.269 To those who turn to him in faith, he
grants what they ask.270 So miracles strengthen faith in the One who
does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of
God.271 But his miracles can also be occasions for “offence”;272 they
are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic
Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even
accused of acting by the power of demons.273

549 By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger,
injustice, illness and death,274 Jesus performed messianic signs.
Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below,275 but to
free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their
vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage.276

550 The coming of God’s kingdom means the defeat of Satan’s: “If it is
by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God
has come upon you.”277 Jesus’ exorcisms free some individuals from
the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus’ great victory over
“the ruler of this world”.278 The kingdom of God will be definitively
established through Christ’s cross: “God reigned from the wood.”279

“The keys of the kingdom”

551 From the beginning of his public life Jesus chose certain men,
twelve in number, to be with him and to participate in his mission.280
He gives the Twelve a share in his authority and ‘sent them out to
preach the kingdom of God and to heal.”281 They remain associated
for ever with Christ’s kingdom, for through them he directs the
As my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that
you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.282

552 Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;283
Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the
Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living
God.” Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock
I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against
it.”284 Christ, the “living Stone”,285 thus assures his Church, built on
Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he
confessed Peter will remain the unshakeable rock of the Church. His
mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his
brothers in it.286

553 Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the
keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall
be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in
heaven.”287 The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the
house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd,
confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.”288
The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins,
to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to make disciplinary decisions
in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through
the ministry of the apostles289 and in particular through the ministry


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