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

481. The teaching and preaching of Jesus centered on the “Kingdom of God,” a dynamic symbol of
God’s active presence among His people. For Christ, this Kingdom, was grounded in the Old
Testament hope for Yahweh’s presence (cf. Ps 91:1, 96:10; 97:1; 99:1 etc). This hope was
eschatological, that is, something already present but not yet fully (cf. Mk 1:14f; Mt 4:17). Without
ever defining precisely what the Kingdom of God is, Jesus uses it to embrace all the blessings of
salvation, a salvation of God’s active presence within people’s daily life, liberating them from the
enslaving power of evil, for loving service of their fellowmen.

For Filipino Christians today, PCP II sketches the essentials of the Kingdom as a “gift of God,”
made present in Jesus, as a “Task” and as a “Promise” (cf. PCP II 39-43).

482. Christ’s typical method of communicating his word about the Kingdom was by telling stories,
parables. In them he focused on the common life of his listeners, and drew them into recognizing
God’s presence therein. Jesus taught the people that God was their Father, not in competition with them.
That He was not calling them out of their own humanity, but rather making their own creative human efforts
possible by His divine presence.

483. Another characteristic of Jesus’ preaching was his peculiar use

of “Amen.” While “Amen” was customary in responding to another’s assertion, Jesus used it rather to
introduce his own message. Jesus’ Amen expressed a unique blend of certainty, authority and power.
Certainty, because Jesus claimed to be expressing only what he hears from the
Father. “I do nothing by myself. I say only what the Father has taught me” (Jn 8:26-28).
Authority, because unlike the prophets of old, Jesus spoke in his own name: “I solemnly assure
you . . .” (cf. Jn 3:3,11; 5:19,24, etc.) Jesus puts his word above Moses and the Law. “You have heard
the commandment imposed on your forefathers . . . What I say to you is. . .” (Mt 5:21-48).
Power, because Jesus claimed a unique filial relationship with God his “Abba,” Father. And he
claimed the power to share this relationship with others:

“Everything has been given over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son but the Father, and no one
knows the Father but the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him” (Mt 11:27).

Deeds

484. Peter’s Pentecost discourse began with: “Men of Israel, listen to me! Jesus the Nazorean was a
man whom God sent to you with miracles, wonders, and signs as his credentials. These God worked
through him in your midst, as you well know” (Acts 2:22). But Jesus was not the typical “wonderworker”
creating a big show to draw crowds of followers. Rather he worked a healing ministry which
constantly called to personal faith and discipleship (cf. PCP II 84).

485. The direct connection between faith and healing works is clearly affirmed by Christ in many of
his signs. For instance:
• when he cured the paralytic (cf. Mk 2:1-12), and the woman with the issue of blood (cf. Mk
5:25-34);
• when he gave sight to the blind Bartimaeus (cf. Mk 10:46-52), and restored to life Jairus’ daughter (cf. Mk
5:21-24,35-43);
• when he cured the centurion’s servant boy at Capernaum (cf. Mt 8:5-13), and the daughter
of the persistent Canaanite woman (cf. Mt 15:21-28);
• when he cleansed the ten lepers, of whom only the one Samaritan returned to give thanks
(cf. Lk 17:11-19).

In all these cases, Christ’s message was the same: “Your faith has been your salvation. Go in
peace” (Lk 7:50). In contrast, in his own home town of Nazareth, Jesus could work no miracle, “so
much did their lack of faith distress him” (Mk 6:5-6).

486. The faith which Jesus praised throughout his ministry was not the self-righteous, legalistic faith
of the Scribes and Pharisees. Rather, for those who knew their own helplessness, it was the open
acceptance of God’s free gift of loving, healing presence among them in Christ. “Believing” meant
reaching out beyond themselves and their need to embrace the free gift of Christ’s life-giving and
healing love. This is the faith that “saves” because it shares in the very power of God, active within
our daily lives.

487. But beyond open acceptance, this faith which Jesus praises also involves discipleship: an
implicit commitment. Each is called to live out the gift of life freely given, in all the concrete
circumstances of one’s daily life, by following Jesus’ way. This is what coming to know Jesus Christ
demands of every believer. Each has a mission as Christ himself had, from the Father. To personally
know Christ, then, is to understand the meaning of one’s own concrete life in view of the larger
perspective of the Kingdom of God: of our graced union with God (cf. PCP II 62,67,79,85).

488. Besides his healing, Christ’s ministry was noted for his celebration of the Kingdom in tablefellowship.
He not only forgave sinners and associated with tax collectors and outcasts (cf. Mk 2:15-
17); he even scandalized his pious contemporaries by dining with them. Such table-fellowship
symbolized Christ’s whole mission and message of drawing all into his Father’s Kingdom. “I have
come to call sinners, not the self-righteous” (Mk 2:17). It prefigures the eternal banquet in the
Kingdom of God in which “many will come from the east and the west and will find a place, while the
natural heirs will be driven out into the dark” (Mt 8:11-12).

489. The importance of this table-fellowship in Jesus’ ministry is confirmed by two things. The first
is the special importance among the early disciples of the “breaking of bread” (Lk 24:35; Acts 2:46).
This must have come from Jesus’ own mannerism. The second is the Lord’s prayer which Christ
taught his disciples. It summarizes the ministry of Christ in terms of “Abba” (Father), the Kingdom,
bread, forgiveness and the final test. All of these refer in one way or another to table-fellowship and
more. Not just voluntary “coming together” but the koinonia, the transforming communion we have in
the Eucharistic celebration as members of Christ’s Body.

Saving from Socio-Political Oppression

496. The Exodus liberation of the Old Testament is the background for Jesus’ saving work as the
new Moses. He teaches a new hierarchy of values that undermined the oppressive social structures of
his day (cf. Lk 16:14-15). But how did Jesus actually liberate? First, he exposed the enslaving,
corrupting power of riches. Jesus showed that giving was better than taking, sharing more liberating
than hoarding (cf. Lk 6:29-30; 14:13-14; Acts 20:35).
For Jesus, the key to economic liberation was twofold: 1) to free human hearts from their greed
and self-seeking; and 2) to inspire them with respect for others, sensitivity and compassion for the
needy, and a generous, outgoing love for those in want.

497. Second, Jesus taught that any power not rooted in mutual service was enslaving and oppressive.
“Whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all” (Mk 10:42-45). Love is
ultimately the only power that sets people free.
Third, Jesus liberated his followers from the common social prejudices that bound them. These
were the customary ways of honoring the wise and the rich while discriminating against foreigners,
women, public sinners and outcasts. He taught concern for “the little ones” of the Kingdom (cf. Mt
18:10).

498. Finally, Jesus freed his contemporaries from mere external, lega1istic religious obedience to the
Law by interiorizing and prioritizing its obligations.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You pay tithes on mint and herbs and seeds, while
neglecting the weight, matters of the law: justice and mercy and good faith. It is these you should have
practiced, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, you strain out the gnat and swallow the camel! (Mt
23:23f)

Saving from Life’s Meaninglessness

499. Christ saved by being the revelation of the Father. To his followers Jesus promised: “If you
live according to my teaching, you are truly my disciples; then you will know the truth, and the truth
will set you free” (Jn 8:31f). His teachings set us free because they offer meaning and purpose in life,
dispelling the darkness of ignorance and despair. Jesus taught: “I am the light of the world. No
follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness; no, he shall posses the light of life” (Jn 8:12). “I have
come into the world as its light, to keep anyone who believes in me from remaining in the dark” (Jn
12:46).

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