It is for obvious reasons that evangelization leans more in our time towards preaching the kerygma (i.e. the basic tenets of the Faith) rather than the kingdom, for while the kerygma presumes that the hearer know nothing about religion, the kingdom cannot be uttered without the recipient having some knowledge base.
And oddly enough that base is not the kerygma (for the kingdom was preached long before it ever was) but a basic understanding of the love story between God and man.
“The Kingdom of God is at hand” and similar proclamations only made sense in that ancient Judaism was already familiar with their people’s participation in the various stages of covenantal relationships, (i.e. from marital to familial, tribal to national etc.)
But a kingdom of God, not just a Davidic one, not one with national boundaries – something universal, something catholic – this was both new and wholly consistent with God’s unfolding plan.
Herein lies the problem for evangelization today. For while a different time and people heard the word ‘kingdom’ as fulfillment, we like the Herods of old hear it as hostility, or at the very least, competition. And yet, in spite of the inherent danger of being misunderstood, it is still absolutely imperative that we spread the full Gospel.
Perhaps this analogy will do. Hearing about the kerygma is like the abandoned child being brought to the safety of an orphanage; while hearing about the kingdom is like being brought to the safety of a loving family. The first gets you out of the cold but the second brings you home.
Knowledge of both is necessary for us to live covenanted lives with this God, which means of course that you and I must speak about both.
Find the right time; say it to the right people; but the kingdom of God is at hand. Welcome home.
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