"Thy Kingdom Come..."

The second petition of the Lord's Prayer - "thy kingdom come" - has an immense depth of meaning. "With this petition," writes Pope Benedict, "we are acknowledging first and foremost the primacy of God. Where God is absent, nothing can be good. Where God is not seen, man and the world fall to ruin... These words establish an order of priorities for human action, for how we approach everyday life." (Jesus of Nazareth, p. 145) In other words, we voice aloud our desire to see the Kingdom of God made present "on earth as it is in heaven," where perfection abounds without limit.

"This [however] is not a promise that we will enter the Land of Plenty," says the Holy Father, "on condition that we are devout or that we are somehow attracted to the Kingdom of God. This is not an automatic formula for a well-functioning world, not a utopian vision of the classless society in which everything works out... Jesus does not give us such simple recipes. What he does do, though...is to establish an absolutely decisive priority." (pp. 145-6) We never merit heaven simply by saying, "Hey, that sounds great, I'd really like that to happen!" Actually, we never merit heaven at all by our own words or even efforts - it is an absolutely voluntary gift of God to those whom he loves and who return that same love to Him.

The real challenge, here, is learning to put into practice these simple yet profound words that we speak each time we recite the Our Father. "With [this] petition," Benedict explains, "the Lord wants to show us how to pray and order our action in just the right way. The first and essential thing is a listening heart, so that God, not we, may reign. The Kingdom of God comes by way of a listening heart. That is its path. And that is what we must pray for again and again... To pray for the Kingdom of God is to say to Jesus: Let us be yours, Lord! Pervade us, live in us; gather scattered humanity in your body, so that in you everything may be subordinated to God and you can then hand over the universe to the Father, in order that 'God may be all in all' (1 Cor 15:28)." (pp. 146-7)