The message that “the kingdom of God is near” has been the message since the days of John the Baptist. The Baptist proclaimed it to the crowds who came to the Jordan. Jesus taught it at His first appearance; and now (in the Gospel passage) the disciples are sent out to spread this as the keynote of their teaching (Luke 10:1-12, 17-20).
Unfortunately it took a long time even for the disciples to understand what “the Kingdom of God” really means. They wanted some sort of visible power and pomp (e.g. naively thrilled at the power of ejecting devils).
One Priest (Alfred Loisy, 1857-1949) who was a Biblical scholar even tried to put a negative spin to this by saying: “Jesus preached the Kingdom, but the Church happened!”. His was a time when several people/scholar got caught up with the erroneous idea of drawing a dichotomy between what they called “the Jesus of History” and the “Christ of Faith” – i.e that the ‘real Jesus’ was something else the Church has been teaching throughout the centuries. Some who embraces that line of thought ended up reducing Him to another mere mortal (ie an old heresy re-packaged!). Loisy was so against the Church that he was eventually excommunicated for His many heretical teachings!
(By the way, if you want to read a beautiful integration of the ‘Jesus of History’ and the ‘Christ of faith’ – i.e. that there is no dichotomy between the two, read the scholarly writings of Pope Benedict XVI, his books, ‘Jesus of Nazareth” – Part I and II).
So how should we understand ‘the Kingdom of God’? One should be able to make the connection that the ‘Kingdom of God’ can be taken as Jesus Himself: the expected Messiah, but one who is also Divine, God incarnated man. It wouldn’t be wrong to substitute ‘the Kingdom of God’ with ‘Christ’. Thus, even when we pray ‘Thy Kingdom come….” we could think of it as the hope of the decisive moment of the full manifestation of God’s Kingdom at His Second Coming.
Perhaps it is precisely when God’s Kingship, when the true God Himself, is fully recognised by humanity that the Kingdom will manifest itself fully on earth, as it is in heaven. There is much praying to do, and much witnessing to do before that happens. And, as Our Lord said, we must ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest
The Kingdom of God is near…..for God is near….. May His Kingdom Come