6 July 2016
At St. Paul’s Cathedral in London there’s a life-size painting of Jesus. The painting is called “The Light of the World,” and in it there’s Jesus, standing outside a closed door. There’s a night sky, and Jesus holds a lamp in his left hand, while his right hand is stretched out, knocking on the door. And his eyes look out at the person who’s looking at the painting.
If that painting had a subtitle, it might be: “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The Kingdom is right here on our doorstep. All we have to do is open the door. But, on this particular door, there’s no knob; instead, the door is opened by what we call the “covenant.”
To let the Kingdom of heaven into our lives, we have to be true to our covenant with God. And it’s a covenant we made with God at our baptism, and it’s a covenant that’s sealed by the Blood of Christ. We gave ourselves to Christ in baptism; and he gives himself to his people on the Cross. Our covenant with God is based on sacrifice—it’s based on sacrificial love.
“The Kingdom of heaven is at hand;” it’s right here on our doorstep. But the key that opens that door is everything that’s hard for us: humility, repentance, putting God’s Will ahead of our own, being merciful, forgiving those who trespass against us, being a person of hope and faith even when it’s hard. The key to the kingdom is sacrifice—not sacrifice in the sense of pain, but sacrifice in the sense of self-sacrificial love.
There’s a reason why Jesus said over and over: “Love God, love your neighbor.” Sacrificial love is the “nuts and bolts” of the covenant we have with God. If we want the Kingdom of heaven to come, we have to be true to our covenant with God. And that requires nothing less than saying in truth: “Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”