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Friday, March 16, 2012

Sacraments celebrate the Kingdom of God

The sacraments also point to a future which Jesus referred to as God's kingdom, realm or reign. God already reigns in hearts that are converted to doing God's will and to loving others as Jesus instructed. God's realm is already found wherever justice and compassion are the basis of human relationships between individuals, in a group, in an institution or even in a whole society. But the kingdom is always incomplete, so the sacraments look forward to the coming of God's kingdom in its fullness. 

Of all the time dimensions of sacramental meaning, the future dimension is the most elusive. We remember the past and we can see the present, but how do we get in touch with the future? Yet somehow we do this every time we participate in a ritual that we find meaningful. When we shake hands and say hello, we are looking forward to the development of a relationship. When we celebrate our friends' wedding anniversary and when we attend Fourth of July fireworks, we are expressing hope for that couple and for our country in the future.

Children who make their first Communion or first Confession are expressing a desire to get closer to God. People who get married in church or who are ordained to the priesthood are saying something about their future in relation to God and the Christian community.

But sacraments imply more than just a personal future. They also point to the possibility and hope that the realities they celebrate will someday reign over all the earth. Eucharist looks forward to the time when all will be one. Reconciliation speaks the possibility of peace among all families and nations. Anointing of the Sick points to the hope that illness and disease will someday be no more

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