Daily Bread, Kingdom, Forgiveness
Fr. ZAVEN ARZOUMANIAN, PhD
Thy Kingdom Come
The Lord’s Prayer is a very brief and to the point prayer open to everyone and addressed to the Heavenly Father, taught by His Son Jesus Christ reminding all Christians to live as brothers and sisters since it proclaims “Our Father,” not my Father. Asking for “our daily bread, the Kingdom of God, and forgiveness of sins” as the essence of the prayer, the faithful need them for a healthy life, physical and spiritual. No accumulated wealth, nor unlimited happiness, comfort nor abundance are included, since those negate the three essentials and cause from the smallest evils, jealousy and disrespect, leading to greater evils men experience every day. The Lord’s Prayer is a daily prayer, complete and satisfying if said properly, sincerely, respectfully and with deep faith in the Heavenly Father without questioning and easy expectation, resting assured that He knows our needs before we ask for them.
Among the three the Kingdom of God is outstanding and fervently asked to descend from heaven to earth for the Christians to be its citizens, cherish it, and contribute to it unselfishly, rather than contemplate passively for their daily lives. The Kingdom is also a daily request, confirmed by Christ delegated to his followers as a divine legacy, an active touchstone. They are called to be the custodians through the Church of Christ which represents the Kingdom on earth. After all only human souls can be the “living stones” to keep and promote the Kingdom of God alive and active on earth.
Even though each of the two designations comprise the same entity, there is a distinction between the “Kingdom of Heaven” and the “Kingdom of God,” the former incomprehensible for men while the latter, “a living church”, breathing and active by the agents of God’s people, who “once were not people, now are God’s people, having received mercy,” as explained by the Apostle.
The Incarnation of Jesus Christ, meaning God appearing on earth as man born from Mary in Bethlehem, has made that distinction assuring the Father’s love for the world. In simpler words, the Heavenly Kingdom transferred into the Kingdom of God Incarnate, so that the Gospel is preached by Christ the King. The Church on earth is expressed as the Body of Christ, accomplishing all Christ was doing while in His human body on earth. Whatever His body did on earth, walking, preaching and healing, the church, His mystical body, is expected to do the same faithfully as much as humanly possible.
Thy Will Be Done
This is the immediate complementing request for the coming of the Kingdom. It is not a coincidence; it is the corollary, the self-evident inference, making it clear that the Kingdom is the will of God “done” on earth. Those responsible for it have the challenge to preserve in action God’s Kingdom by doing His will loyally. This was first proclaimed by John the Baptist, while baptizing in the Jordan, that the Kingdom of God was “at hand” requiring “repentance.” To approve the Baptist’s announcement Jesus appeared and met John the Baptist in Jordan to be baptized before His temptation in the wilderness. At His baptism the Holy Trinity appeared the first time ever: the Son in the water, the Spirit coming down as a dove, and the Father’s voice confirming Jesus as His beloved Son.
Way to the Cross
The vehicles of the Coming of the Kingdom are the spiritual society and the Cross understood by the society as utmost sacrifice. Men were to be compatible with the principles of that Kingdom, since “many are called and few are chosen,” or few of the scattered seeds “fell in good soil”, signifying that Jesus’ preaching did not convert all who heard His words to repent. Concurrently, it was only when Jesus gave His life on the cross and offered it to the Father that “many could be saved in return.”
Completing the cycle we should also remember that the Cross preceded the Tomb, as Jesus went through human agony and came out triumphant, abiding by His Father’s plans for mankind on earth. His Gospel and its teachings now converted into active service offered to the world constituted the true foundations of the Kingdom of God. By Christ’s birth history was made and subsequently the Church replenished the Kingdom and preached His Resurrection forever.
Not considering those preconditions, namely the way to the Cross, is to treat the Kingdom lightly, taking it for granted, believing that it stays in heaven, ready for us whenever we need it. Commitment and service are the true forces moving toward the Kingdom of God through the church, the establishment, the only way to realize the “Coming of the Kingdom.” It seems therefore that the Kingdom of God becomes our part in life, real and active part, in time and space, illustrated by so many parables uttered by Jesus, taking examples from the life’s various incidents.
Significant is the parable of the rich man who invited his rich friends to a lavish banquet, but to his surprise and disappointment those invited declined politely one by one for one reason or another, and the host was insulted. He then invited the poor and the destitute instead and recovered his dignity since they were in need rather than the rich friends. One of the poor made the confession on behalf of all, saying “blessed is he who will eat in the Kingdom of God.” The doors are open wide for service, but not all of them are worthy to enter. The heavenly banquet is mirrored downed on earth as the Kingdom of God where worthy citizens will carry the mission of Christ through His holy church, the holy banquet of sacrifice.