When Jesus proclaimed the in-breaking of God’s promised Kingdom, his words ought to have been received with joy and thanksgiving. And yet, often as not he received criticism as well as praise, and there were many who scorned his teachings. In the gospel of Luke we find reason why revealed in a single word: “reversal.” God’s kingdom reveals the respect, dignity, and rights of all persons, and brings into reality the justice of God. God’s justice is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, the hungry are made full, the persecuted are raised up, and the poor are made rich…but on the other hand those who are rich, respected, and well-fed have already received everything they desire, and many will end up serving instead of being served.
St. Augustine was once reported to have prayed “Lord, give me chastity and continence, but do not give them yet.” He has not been alone in this prayer, for there are many in this world view the judgement of God with suspicion and fear. These privileged ones are often found bartering with God to “hold off just a bit” when confronted with God’s justice and the sacrifices demanded by faith. They ask for delay, but there can be none. Too many in our world already live in such desperate circumstances that God’s justice cannot be delayed even one more hour. The kingdom of God is here, and its consolations are meant for all people…even those who are not yet ready to receive.