ADVENIAT REGNUM TUUM

Thy Kingdom Come

(Adapted from a longer article by Robert Henshaw a.a. – 2007)

When we pray, “Thy Kingdom Come” what exactly are we praying for. Our Founder, Emmanuel d’Alzon, who chose this motto because it corresponded to his own deep convictions and his character. He wrote:

 

 “Our spiritual life, our religious substance, our raison d’être, as Augustinians of the Assumptionist,

is to be found in our motto “Adveniat Regnum Tuum”, the coming of the reign of God in our souls,

the coming of the Reign of God in the world.”

 

The Latin word “Regnum” can either mean ‘Kingdom’ like the geographical kingdom of the United Kingdom or it can mean ‘Reign’ is in “love reigned supreme in her heart.”; so the coming of the reign of God in our souls means the coming of a time when Christ and his rule of love will reign supreme in our hearts.

1) Is the Kingdom of God present now in some way or is it something in the future something that we are always looking forward to?

2) Does the Kingdom of God belong to this world like an ‘earthly kingdom’ or is it a heavenly kingdom in the next?

3) What did our Lord mean when he said ‘My kingdom is not of this world.?

4) What does it mean to put the kingdom of God first in our lives “seek ye first the kingdom of God….”

 

It is immediately clear in the Gospels that there is a strong link between Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Especially in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, this expression appears on practically every page. Each of these evangelists would have given serious thought to the first words they placed on the lips of Jesus. Mark and Matthew tell us that Jesus began his preaching with these words. ‘The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good news.” 

 “The Kingdom of God is close at hand.” It is possible to say that our Lord’s mission was to overcome the reign of Satan in the world and establish the reign of God in its place – bringing people back to their Father’s home. Calling them to entrust themselves completely to the rule of God’s love. If we look at the New Testament, we will not find anywhere in it a definition of the Kingdom of God. Jesus never explained what exactly he meant by this term – but he gave people the experience of what he meant by the Kingdom of God being close to us. We come to know what is meant by the coming of God’s Kingdom more through experiences than through books and ideas.         

One way, in which Jesus used to convey what the experience of the Kingdom of God is like, was through parables. Remember all those parables which began with the words, “The Kingdom of God is like . . ."  

There are nature parables – the Kingdom is like seeds that are sown. They are invisible, small, but always growing. They are symbols of hope. The word of God is sown in our lives so that it may grow and bring forth fruit in our lives. We can see the Kingdom of God at work in people’s lives.

Image by Francesco Gallarotti

A third way in which the Kingdom of God is manifested in Jesus Life is in companionship – his table fellowship with sinners and tax collectors – social outcasts, his reaching out to the poor, the hungry, the suffering, whose who had lost dignity and hope. He gave them the assurance of their dignity in God’s eyes. They are God’s beloved children. His companionship with them, his acceptance, and compassion towards them is an anticipation of the great beyond of God’s Kingdom in the life to come. When these poor people were close to Jesus, they experienced what he meant when he said the Kingdom of God is close to you. And, in the Gospels, you have the Sermon on the Mount – which is really a description of how men and women live now in this life when they submit their lives to Christ’s law or rule of love; living in this world as citizens of heaven.

 

This brief overview of the Gospels leads to the question: Is the Kingdom of God present now in some way or is it something in the future; something we are looking forward to?

There were also the lost and found parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son. These illustrate God’s joy at finding again those he had created who had been lost. On the part of those who are found, it is the joy of returning home, of being reconciled, of coming alive again - joining in God’s joy.

We experience God’s kingdom when these conversion experiences happen in our lives – when it is like coming alive again, being in touch with the source of all life and love and pulling out fresh growth in our lives.

We see this happening time and time again in the Gospels. When we witness, for example, the conversion of the little man, Zacchaeus in Luke’s Gospel: this is the Kingdom of God happening. This is what Jesus meant when he said “The Kingdom of God is among you”.

The other area where we see the Kingdom of God appearing, so to speak, is in the healing of the sick. The Kingdom of God does not only bring salvation in a religious sense - that is the idea of saving souls from the power of sin. It also brings health and healing in bodily experiences. All severe illnesses are heralds or foretastes of death but Jesus healings are heralds, advance signs of the Resurrection. In every healing we experience something of the resurrection. Even though we are going to die, we all look forward to being re-born to eternal life - the resurrection life. In that resurrection life we will experience the Kingdom of God in its final completed realisation when all the seeds of life that Jesus planted will come to their full fruition.

Sheep
Image by Neal E. Johnson
Stacking Coins
Image by Jude Beck

God’s kingdom is experienced in the present, in the companionship with Jesus when the sick are healed and the lost are found; where people who are despised are accepted; where people who have lost hope come to life again and regain their joy and youthfulness of spirit. There the Kingdom of God begins. It is experienced in the present and this experience strengthens our hope for its coming in its fullness. We look forward to a future in which God will restore everything and put everything to rights and gather everything into his Kingdom. This is our great hope, a hope which encompasses all our little hopes. As St Peter put it in his letter:

 “In accordance with his promise, we wait for a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness is at home.”

Our hope is for a world completely remade, a world transfigured by the love of God and full of God’s glory so that God will be all in all. Although it is God’s business when this will happen, he encourages us to pray for this:

 

Our longing of the eternal kindles our imagination.

The human heart continues to dream of a state of wholeness,

that place where everything comes together,

where the lost will be made good,

where blindness will transform into vision,

where damage will be made whole,

where the travails of a life’s journey will enjoy a home-coming.”             

                      John O’ Donohue.

 

We have seen that Jesus coming was already a foretaste of life in God’s kingdom – it was the sowing of the seeds etc. What about the in-between time between Jesus first coming and his second coming at the end of time? Are we just meant to pray for hope?

Of course not!

We believe that the Church exists to carry on the saving mission of Jesus. The Church is the body of Christ in the world now – it has taken up the commission given to the first disciples “Go and preach: The Kingdom of God is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse lepers ….

Let us end with the Our Father:

 

Our Father who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

Thy Kingdom come,

thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

The Church, the community of believers is meant to witness to the coming of God’s kingdom by being visible signs of the kingdom. The Church is meant to be a communion of love which shows the world what is possible when men and women submit themselves to the Reign of God’s love. I think it was Pope Paul VI who said that the mission of the Church was to help create a civilisation of love. The values of that civilisation are unity, peace, justice, truth, compassion and universal love. This civilisation of love will come about not through violent revolution or authoritarian rule or military might but through the re-birth in love of each individual through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The rule of God’s love starts in our hearts and permeates society.

 

The Assumptionist motto:

ADVENIAT REGNUM TUUM - Thy Kingdom Come

It is better to keep to the Latin initials since the letters of Thy Kingdom Come. These three words Thy Kingdom Come are not just a motto – they are a mission statement. In our Rule of Life, which spells out the way we want to live our lives as Assumptionists and members of the Church, is the quote:

“The Assumptionist Community exists for the coming of the Kingdom.” (Rule of Life n°7)

Fr d’Alzon was a passionate man, a man of vision, of conviction, a man of hope. He looked forward in hope to a world renewed by the coming of Christ into human hearts. Our prayer should lead to action – apostolic action. He wanted to emphasise the unity of Assumptionist life. Once God comes to reign in the heart of an apostolic religious then the love of Christ will compel him or her to go and set others on fire with this love.

Growing up after the French Revolution he was convinced that the atheistic spirit of the Revolution lived on. At that time, in France, there was an organised campaign to eliminate God from society: he wrote

“God is being driven out of modern society, from states, from families and from morals that is clearly visible every day.”

It is still true for our society nowadays. He resisted passionately any move to push the Church into the sacristy and destroy the historic Christian character of his country. God’s rights, he said, must be restored. “The Kingdom of man” should not supplant “The Kingdom of God.” (An echo of St Augustine of Hippo, City of God). Fr d’Alzon chose this motto because he believed it was key to our faith. He believed that when the faith was being challenged at its roots it was important to face this challenge head-on by focusing on what is essential. This is what he wrote:

“The Kingdom of Jesus Christ is the greatest of all causes. May his kingdom come in us and everywhere around us!”