X. Chapter 3 of Jesus of Nazareth discusses “The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.” The Greek for Gospel is evangelion, often translated as “good news.” While literally accurate, the Gospel writers’ contemporaries would have seen a contrast lost on us: the Roman emperors used the Latin form of this word, evangelium, for their official communications. These messages were their authoritative plans for ordering the “world” (the Empire) to better it according to Roman law. Here, of course, it is not the evangelion of the Emperors, but the Gospel of God; not just words from the one in power, but that very Word made flesh; not simply promises of a better world, but the living reality of salvation by His presence.
The Gospel message at its core: the Kingdom of God is at hand. This is not a promise that “soon, something will happen, God will do something to establish His power.” Rather, it is the enactment, the initiation, the fulfillment of that “something” by the very presence of Jesus, God in our midst. As Benedict says: “A milestone is set up in the flow of time; something new takes place. And an answer to this gift is demanded of us: conversion and faith.”
As he notes, even statistically this phrase is at the heart of Jesus’ message. This term appears 122 times in the New Testament, 99 of them in the Gospels, and 90 of them recording the words of Jesus Himself. Of course, the term “kingdom” can be interpreted various ways, even in Christian history. The first is the reality noted above: the Kingdom is present in the very person of Jesus. It is not a thing, an organization, a geographic realm; it is a person, it is Christ. The second is a mystical interpretation, reflected in Luke: The Kingdom of God is within us. When we surrender to God’s grace, the Kingdom is realized in each life.