BE the Promised Land before Entering It

All branches of the military have used P.R. to attract recruits. “Join the Army and See the World” and “Be All that You Can Be” might be the most famous. At times, the realities of 20th century war and sacrifice overshadowed slogans and people were either drafted to fill a dire need or enticed with the promise of careers and a prosperous future. We can see elements of such calls to service in this Sunday’s mass readings.

John, the youngest of Christ’s disciples—and, many believe, his favorite—was inspired to use a more futuristic and outcome-based appeal to potential recruits (Rev 21:1-5a):

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.”

Then there was Paul, the tough guy who was once Christianity’s enemy. Leave it to this war-hardened veteran to tell potential recruits the way it is in his man’s army. Here’s how Acts describes the acts of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:21-27) :

They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

Leave it to the Master of their cause to lead by example and, through the gospels, appeal more to our sense of love for others in the here and now than to our desire to arrange for the future security of our own souls (Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35):

My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

That’s the way to the Kingdom of God on earth. If everyone joined that cause, the old order would pass away as John promised because the kingdom of God will enter us before it’s the other way around.

–Tom Andel

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