A Kingdom Deferred

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

Many years ago, I attended a Peter, Paul and Mary concert in Pittsburgh. You know Peter, Paul and Mary – the famous folk group that sang Puff the Magic Dragon, If I Had a Hammer, Blowin’ in the Wind, and lots of other anthems to peace and justice.
But at this concert, a few rows in front of me, were several young guys who apparently had a little too much to drink or smoke. They were carrying-on – loud, disrespectful and disruptive. A young couple right behind them asked them to quiet down, one thing led to another, and before you knew it, fists were flying. I’ve always remembered the irony of that moment – Peter, Paul and Mary on stage singing about peace and love while the audience was engulfed in a full blown brawl.
It’s also an irony I reflect upon each year when we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King when we proclaim that Jesus is the King of the Universe. We pray that he will establish “an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.”
Lofty words to be sure, but the real world is far different, isn’t it? We live in a world racked by wars and threats of war; by violence in our streets, disregard for human life and dignity, the breakdown of the family unit, degrading profanity and pornography, rampant drug addiction, and crippling political dysfunction.
Where, we rightly ask, is the Kingdom of God? Why hasn’t Jesus established his rule? Why haven’t we listened to his words? Jesus is on the stage singing of justice, love and peace but the audience is mired in a chaotic and confused world. What’s a Christian to do?
Well, first, we do our best to live the virtues of the kingdom in our personal lives – including charity, justice, peace and forgiveness. The Kingdom of God will not be suddenly thrust upon us but will be built slowly, one brick at a time. And as St. Oscar Romero said, “We are the workers, not the Master Builder.” And we also pray fervently for the coming of God’s Kingdom. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” we say in the Lord’s Prayer. We should take those words seriously and entrust the arrival of the Kingdom to God’s providence.
It’s true, the Kingdom of God is a kingdom deferred. But when will it come? “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”
Something to think about: Everyday there are signs of God’s Kingdom around you. Can you find them?