Vatican Council II teaches us that the Kingdom of God is identified with the Church.
The Church “receives the mission to proclaim and to spread among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God and to be, on earth, the initial budding forth of that kingdom” (Lumen Gentium 5).
Therefore Christ founded the Church on the rock of Peter and the Apostles so that She can be the “seed” of God’s Kingdom. Christ founded His Kingdom on earth and His Kingdom cannot exist for mankind without the Church.
The images Jesus used to describe His Church show Her mission and intimate union with Him.
When “the fullness of time” had come (The Letter to the Galatians 4, 4) God sent His Son to the world so that His Plan of Salvation could be accomplished. That is Jesus’ Mission, for the Father wants “to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth” (The Letter to the Ephesians 1, 10). Jesus founded the Kingdom of Heaven on earth through the announcement of the Gospel and the creation of His Church.
“The Church, or, in other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God in the world” (Lumen Gentium 3).
It is worth noticing here that Vatican Council II identifies the Church to Christ’s Kingdom, present on earth as a mystery.
Jesus started the Church by preaching the Good News, “the coming of God’s Kingdom” promised in the Gospel. “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1, 15).
God’s Kingdom emerged through Jesus’ presence on earth, His Words and His miracles.
“But if it is by the finger of God that [I] drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11, 20; Matthew 12, 28).
The seed and the beginning of the Kingdom is that “little flock of sheep” that Jesus the Shepherd gathered to live with Him.
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12, 32).
That “little flock” of disciples represents the starting point of the Church, predestined to be “God’s Family” (The Letter to the Ephesians 2, 20). It is Jesus’ family and He looks after them like a Good Shepherd.
“ I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me” (John 10, 14).
The Lord compares His Church to a sheepfold and the only gate to it is the Christ Himself.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep…. Whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10, 8-9).
The Church is God’s flock and He Himself is the Shepherd. Human shepherds take care of the flock but each sheep is guided and fed by Christ Himself.
Prof Felipe Aquino
Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino