I apologize for brushing off the dust of my old Latin texts of the Scriptures. This means “the kingdom of heaven is like…” Matthew 13. The Old Testament was all about the forecast of the one to come, the Messiah. The New Testament is all about the fulfillment of the plan of salvation that shows us what to do once God made known to use our adoption as one to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36)
Did you know God has a problem (in human terms only), and that is, “How do I tell humans how much I love them to make them my adopted children and how can they claim that inheritance with us in Heaven, which is impossible for the human nature to know, love or serve without blowing out their circuits?”
The Holy Spirit was commissioned to solve the problem, and did He ever. God allowed the energy of the divine nature to permeate and enter humans without destroying their human nature. The tongues of fire came upon the Apostles to give them God’s knowledge, love, and service to share with others that come after them. The Apostles not only received the gift of the Spirit but were given the task to share this energy with others, even though humans were subject to the effects of Original Sin and were prone to commit departures from God’s will. As the Universal collective of those gathered together in Heaven, on earth, and awaiting purification in Purgatory, the Church is the living Body of Christ, which individual members must link into this grace through the Church as linked from Apostles to each other person. This is the continuity of the Spirit, unbroken from Christ and present to us in the Holy Spirit present each time we gather to celebrate the death of the Lord until he comes again in glory.
The Scriptures are the core document, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to show us how to love others as Christ loved us. In a very real sense, God literally reached from divine nature to enter our human nature to give us what we could never have reasoned or attained by ourselves, how to recalibrate our thinking from that of the world to the Kingdom of Heaven, into which we are reborn by Baptism and the Spirit. But what is this Kingdom of Heaven, and what does it look like? Jesus tells us in the Scriptures that no one has seen the Father but only the Son or anyone to whom the Son revealed Him. Jesus is the buffer between what we can never attain, complete knowledge of who God is (Adam tried but fell short). We can only see the Father when we see Christ, and to add to that, we only see Christ when we are present to the Holy Spirit in each of us, those good and those not so good. No one can say Jesus is Lord without the Holy Spirit. Jesus gives us a clue of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like when he gives stories and parables.
WHAT THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE
Matthew 13 gives us a picture of how Jesus, as the Master, uses parables to tell us about the kingdom of Heaven. He does not use examples we could not possibly understand but looks around at everyday events and says the kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed. Read one such example of a parable to see how the kingdom of Heaven might just be closer than you think. I have added the footnotes at the end of this Chapter so that you might have some context. May I suggest that you read the following Chapter through very slowly? Let the words and images have a chance to impress your mind. Next, read it for meaning. Again very slowly, identify the types of parables contained. Do they refer to the abstract next life, or are they meant to describe and not make a definitive statement about what is happening now? Third, read it through again to realize that you are reading a description of what your Heaven will be like later on. Remember that the kingdom of Heaven begins for you personally, with your baptism, as you are on earth to learn about what Heaven will be like after you die. You take with you that which you have sewn with the golden thread of Christ.
The Parable of the Sower. 1* On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.a2Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore.3* And he spoke to them at length in parables* saying: “A sower went out to sow.4And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.5Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,6and when the sun rose, it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.7Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.8But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.9Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
The Purpose of Parables.10The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11* He said to them in reply,” “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them, it has not been granted. 12b To anyone who has, more will be given* and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.13*c This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand” 14Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
‘You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.15Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart and be converted,
and I heal them.’
The Privilege of Discipleship.*16“ “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.17Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
The Explanation of the Parable of the Sower.*18“ “Hear then the parable of the sower.19The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.20The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.21But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away.22The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.23But the seed sown on a rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold”.”
The Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat.24He proposed another parable to them.“ “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.25While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds* all through the wheat, and then went off.26When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.27The slaves of the householder came to him and said ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come fro’?’ 28He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them ‘p?’ 29He replied, ‘No if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.30Let them grow together until harvest;* then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters “s, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.'” g
The Parable of the Mustard Seed.*31h He proposed another parable to t “em. “The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field.32*i It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'”
The Parable of the Yeast.33He spoke to them another para “le. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast* that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” j
The Use of Parables.34*k All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables,35 to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:*
“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation [of the world].” l
The Explanation of the Parable of the Weeds.36Then, dismissing the crowds,* he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37* He said in reply, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,38the field is the world,* the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one,39and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age,* and the harvesters are angels.40Just as weeds are collected and burned [up] with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom* all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.42m They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.43*n Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.
More Parables”*44o “The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,* which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.45 Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.46 When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.47 Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.48 When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.49Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous 50and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Treasures New and “ld.51 “Do you understand* all these “hings?” They answered” “Yes.” 52* And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and” he old.” 53 When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.
The Rejection at Nazareth.54* He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue.p They were astonished* a “d said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?q55 Is the carpenter’s Son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?r56 Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get “ll this?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said “to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his “own house.” s58 And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.
THE PROFOUND LESSON OF ORDINARY LIVING
Jesus presents the kingdom of Heaven through everyday events, probably those that He had witnessed as he was growing up and learning how to be the Messiah. As God, Jesus possessed absolute pure knowledge of the past, the present, and the future. As humans, Jesus was like us in all things, except sin. If so, he had to learn as we learn, through his senses, with the experimentation of what works and what doesn’t. If Jesus did not experience humanity fully (he emptied himself of his divinity), there could be no appropriate gift of reconciliation with the Father due to the fall of Adam and Eve. Like Mary is the Mother of God and not just the Mother of Jesus, God suffered as we suffer, got cold as we get cold, experienced grief and sorrow as with the death of Lazarus, and underwent the temptation in the Garden of Gethsemani. He was like us in all things but sin. Philippians 2:5-12 describes it this way:
5. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,*6 Who,*. However, he was in the form of God and did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped.*7 Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness;* and found human in appearance,e8 he humbled himself,f becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.*9 Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name*that is above every name,g10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,*of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,h11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,*to the glory of God the Father.i.“
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS WITHIN YOU
Jesus uses parables to describe and not define the Kingdom of Heaven because it is beyond the mind’s human experience and capacity to grasp it as God truly is. Christ became one of us to tell us about it in ways that we could understand. If the kingdom of Heaven begins for each individual with baptism and belief in Jesus as Lord, then my Heaven is what I make it now, within each day, within each minute. What follows are some ideas I had when I looked around my life during the past ten days and looked for the kingdom of Heaven.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like… an orange tree in my front yard which was planted from another tree given to us by our friend. This tree produces abundant fruit that is nourishing. We share this fruit with our neighbors and friends so that they may share our plenty. Sharing makes us happy.
The Kingdom of Heaven is my wife’s painting of a rose with watercolors. It gives warmth and beauty to all who see it. They marvel at her creativity and skill at painting.
The Kingdom of Heaven begins now, but so does your Hell, if you so choose it.