We are living in an unprecedented time of change and upheaval. Every night when I turn on the evening news, you would think the world is going to hell in a handbasket. In the backdrop of global pandemic that is not abating, wildfires are ravaging through the western states, severe drought is making it impossible for some farmers to continue their generations of farming, floods and hurricanes deluging eastern states, more unstable and volatile weather patterns plaguing our planet, increase in number of migratory movement of people because it’s impossible to live where they are, political turmoil within our nation and abroad, crisis in Afghanistan and… Do I need to go on with the list?
From my perspective, all this is happening because humanity has lost its way from God’s vision for the world. St. Ignatius of Loyola, the 15th century Spanish mystic and theologian, understood “Sin” as “being out of an alignment with God’s deepest desire for your life”. There is a battle for the soul of humanity going on between the “Kingdom of God” and the “Kingdom of Caesar”.
Jesus’ first preaching, after being baptized by John and spending 40 days in the desert overcoming Satan’s temptations, was proclaiming the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. (Mark 1:15) The Kingdom of God is the “reign of God” or the “rule of God” where God’s vision for the world and God’s deepest desire for our lives are realized and lived. Therefore, he commended us to “repent (Greek word is “metanoia” which means “turning around from going in the wrong direction”) from our worldly way that perpetuates violence and suffering.
By proclaiming the good news of the coming Kingdom of God, he was telling us that we have the power to change the way we “SEE” reality. Because we are disconnected from God’s reality, we interpret events, assume limitations, doubt ourselves, and follow familiar “scripts” of limiting beliefs that trap us in the invisible cage of chaos and suffering. I believe that when Jesus proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God, he was trying to liberate us from our illusion and delusion that perpetuate suffering in our world and damaging God’s planet.
Kingdom of God is the transcendent reality of God where Jesus lived, moved and had his being. Jesus said, “The Father and I are one.” (John 10:30) Unfortunately, to our detriment, what is essential to God is not essential by the world. Reversely, what is essential to the world is not essential to God. Jesus said, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” (John 8:23) Jesus lived in the Kingdom of God where his reality and values were a direct threat to the powers and values of this world. These clashes between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Caesar ultimately led Jesus to the cross. The power of this world put him on the cross to silence the one who was perceived as a direct threat to legitimacy of their powers.
My heart aches for the people of Afghanistan who are going through unimaginable terror and desperation as Americans are leaving after 20 years of unsuccessful nation building project. I see Vietnam all over again and we are living through the nightmare all over again. David McCullough, the 20th century American historian, warned, “Learning history is an antidote to the hubris of the present.” When will we ever learn?
I pray for the safe evacuation of Americans, allies, and Afghans who fought and assisted us there. And I pray for our world. Lord, have mercy on us!
– John Song