The Kingdom of Heaven Suffers Violence

15 03 2010

. . . the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.

Matthew 11:12

To fast and pray is to pick a fight with the kingdom of darkness.  Haven’t you ever wondered why these simple practices can seem nearly impossible to actually carry out?  The Great Cabal – Satan, the flesh and the world – seek to undermine and discourage, at every turn, any attempt to draw near to God and thereby to become more like Him.

Part of the point of Lenten discipline is to provide the disciple of Jesus with the weapons and internal fortitude he or she will of necessity need in the Battle.

To quote Alexander Schmemann, once again (from Great Lent, chp. 3):

For the Kingdom, although it has come, although it comes in the Church, is yet to be fulfilled and consummated at the end of time when God will fill all things with Himself.  We know it, and we partake of it in anticipation; we partake now of the Kingdom which is still to come.  We foresee and foretaste its glory and blessedness but we are still on earth, and our entire earthly existence is thus a long and often painful journey toward the ultimate Lord’s Day.

On this journey we need help and support, strength and comfort, for the “Prince of this world” has not yet surrendered; on the contrary, knowing his defeat by Christ, he stages a last and violent battle against God to tear away from Him as many as possible.  So difficult is this fight, so powerful the “gates of Hades,” that Christ Himself tells us about the “narrow way” and the few that are capable of following it.  And in this fight, our main help is precisely the Body and Blood of Christ, that “essential food” which keeps us spiritually alive and, in spite of all temptations and dangers, makes us Christ’s followers. . . .

And if Lent and fasting mean the intensification of that fight, it is because—according to the Gospel—we then are face to face with evil and all its power.  It is then, therefore, that we especially need the help and power of that Divine Fire.

In Lent we anticipate the power and victory of the Resurrection—AND we are called to enforce that victory in the dark places in us and around us.   So be it!




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