At my former school, there was a social service science fair called “Kingdom Fair.” It was started at the school by Tom Cendejas, my predecessor. Students would go out into the community and seek out and serve at non-profits to fulfill their community service requirement. They would serve as ambassadors for the organization and present what they did with crafted boards and present their findings in a paper and share their understanding with students, faculty and family. This would, hopefully, inspire people to look into these organizations and participate in some way or actively engage in an effort to help another community. It was a brilliant assignment.
I would ask one of the sisters from the RSHM to speak at the fair. One of the nuns who spoke was Sr. Angela Miliota. Sr. Angela posed that we should change the name of the event from “Kingdom Fair” to “Kindom Fair” (sic).
The phrase “kingdom” is seen throughout scripture and one can note that a patriarchal society was implicit in the society at large. This does not mean that Jesus agreed with it. Talking with a woman in public was a no-no for a man, especially a “rabbi.” That is why, among other reasons, his meeting the Samaritan woman at the well was so scandalous.
Matthew chapters 5 through 7 lay out the basic values of Jesus. Starting with the Beatitudes and ending with Chapter 7 where he talks about judgement of others, Jesus’ ideas of proper conduct toward one another is stated. The first time we see this word, “kingdom,” in these chapters is when Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”
The last time in these chapters that Jesus refers to the “kingdom” is when he is addressing the idea of “True and False Prophets.” In Matthew 7: 21 through 23 he says:
“21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
He goes on in the last paragraph to draw an analogy on building a house on solid ground versus building a house on sand. The house that is built on bedrock is the house where one’s values align with his morality. He is abiding by a sense of peace and oneness in concert with the harmony of the universe and God’s call to unite as one people of God.
Throughout scripture, Jesus is calling out those people who are hypocritical and some of the biggest ones are the religious who are true to living by the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law.
Matthew Chapter 23 is dedicated to acknowledging the sins of the Pharisees. He condemns them for putting themselves above others and one by one he lists the problems he sees in how they do this.
Sr. Angela notes that “kingdom” implies a sort of patriarchal meaning; a hierarchical connotation and this causes problems. In a kingdom the male figure stands as the great authority, but in Jesus’ philosophy it was not about male dominance. The greatest of these was hailed to be the lesser and the lesser was to become the greater. Jesus was quick to point out to the Pharisees that they were missing the point.
As a result of this patriarchal hierarchy in society, we miss the true spirit of Jesus’ intention of recognizing all as equal.
“Kindom” is more of an accurate description as to what Jesus wanted for Judaism. Yes, Judaism. Jesus was not necessarily trying to start a new religion, he was trying to reform his own and bring it back to the true intention of scripture as he interpreted it.
Recently I went on retreat with students. It was interesting to hear witnesses of students and to break bread with one another. I told one student that aside from working for the greater good of the community, this is what the early church would have been like. People would be working to build communities together. No one was greater than another and through breaking of bread and sharing the burden of labor the communities grew. It also created a place for healing where an individual could spiritually resolve conflicts within – in a safe comfortable space and nurturing environment.
Like Jesus the perceived leader would wash the feet of those he served to humble himself and remind himself that he was no better than anyone else. We are kindred spirits drawn to a sacred understanding that resonates profoundly in the heart. This “kindom” is what builds a more lasting peace in our world. This “kindom” is what creates a universal understanding of love that Jesus truly intended for humankind.