Reflections for the Week of July 23, 2017 Seventh of Pentecost

Gospel: Mt 13.31-33,44-52 compares the kingdom of heaven (i.e., of God) to a mustard seed that grew into a huge bush, to yeast which permeates all the dough, to a treasure and a pearl found in a field, to a huge catch of fish containing both good fish and bad. These are all descriptions or similes of the kingdom of God as He (Jesus) is developing it here on earth through His royal priesthood. Christians are His stewards who act as His agents who are bringing in the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. They are royal because they are carrying out the will of the King, and they are priests because they bear His image in the cosmic temple He created and reflect the praises and glory of the world back to Him. Several more passages fill out the functions of His royal priests (you and me) as we carry out His will in extending His kingdom.

1 Cor 6.1-5 takes the Corinthians to task for having legal disputes when they, the saints, will be judging the world (v.1), and even angels (v.2), in the kingdom about to come.

Dan 7.18,22,27 says Israel (referring to all believers) will be set in authority over the world. This prophecy has been fulfilled in Jesus, the King of all the earth, and those who are “in Him.” This is why Daniel elsewhere in Dn 7 refers to the “holy ones of the Most High.” Paul expects us to be prepared in the present for this vocation in the future by anticipating it and learning to live it out.

In 1 Cor 4.7-8 Paul says he wishes the Corinthians were already reigning so he could reign along with them (us). Surely this is a bit of sarcasm! If we are surprised at our role in the age to come as rulers and judges, this vocation goes all the way back to Genesis 1 where God commands man “to fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over…every living thing that moves on the earth.” To have dominion means to rule. This is the vocation God gave to mankind.

In 2 Tim 2.8-13 Paul says, “If we have died with Him [as in baptism], we shall also live with Him; if we endure, we shall also reign with Him…”Those who are “in the Messiah” already share in His royal status.

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, in the reborn world, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, those of you who have followed Me will sit–yes, you!–on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt 19.28).

In Mt 25 Jesus tell the parable of the talents, and rewards those who invested wisely saying, “Good and faithful servant; you have been faithful in a few things, I will make you ruler over many things…Enter into the joy of your Lord” (vv. 21,23).

N.T. Wright cites these Scriptures in “After You Believe” in the discussion about Jesus’ followers being a royal priesthood in the age to come so that believers should prepare themselves for this anticipated vocation now. We do this by following Jesus who introduced a kind of life that had never been imagined before: a life of loving God and other people, even when they were executing Him. He lived a life of mercy and forgiveness, of humility and a willingness to suffer for the sake of others without recrimination. He came to launch God’s new creation which includes a new way of being human, a way of being fully human.

Memory Verse: Let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come–all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Cor 3.21-23).

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