Monday, October 2, 2006

The Kingdom of God: Enter at your own risk!

Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop Anthony Bloom, who was (he died in 2003) head of the Russian Orthodox Church in England and Ireland and also promoted to the rank of Metropolitan for all the Russian Orthodox in Western Europe in 1963, a post in which he served until 1974, when he wanted to attend to pastoral duties on a more personal level, wrote a wonderful little book entitled Beginning To Pray. In an interview at the beginning of later editions of his book, which went and continues to go through numerous printings, he says in response to a question about how open modern culture is to the Gospel, "To meet God means to enter the 'cave of a tiger' - it is not a pussy cat you meet - it's a tiger. The realm of God is dangerous. You must enter into it and not just seek information about it".

We're two days away from the feast of my favorite deacon, St. Francis of Assisi, in whom a radical in-breaking of God's Kingdom occurred. In Francis we see the truth of this statement, the utter willingness to abandon oneself into the dangerous realm of God. In other words, in our sentimentalized culture, in which we want to domesticate God's kingdom and make "Jesus and me" fantasy worlds, Metropoliotan Anthony and Francesco Bernadone remind us, not so gently, that the kingdom of God is most assuredly NOT best depicted by a Thomas Kinkade painting!

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