The Kingdom of Heaven
Throughout the Gospel accounts, Jesus uses one particular phrase repeatedly: “the Kingdom of Heaven.” Many assume that the Kingdom of Heaven means the place you go when you die—if you’ve been “saved.” But the problem with this interpretation is that Jesus himself specifically contradicts it when he says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” (that is, here) and “at hand” (that is, now). You don’t die into it; you awaken into it. Others have equated the Kingdom of Heaven with an earthly utopia. Jesus strongly rejected this meaning. “My kingdom is not of this world”
Author Jim Marion’s suggests that the Kingdom of Heaven is really a metaphor for a state of consciousness; it is not a place you go to, but a place you come from. It is a whole new way of looking at the world, a transformed awareness that literally turns this world into a different place.
The hallmark of this awareness is that it sees no separation—not between God and humans, not between humans and other humans. These are indeed Jesus’ two core teachings, underlying everything he says and does. To live in this kingdom is to follow him.
The “kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of heaven” are Jesus’ primary metaphors for the Eternal Now. He is trying to tell us that there is a way that we can live connected to the Real and to the Eternal in this world. That path is surrendering to the here-and-now, whatever it offers us. It may feel like nothing, like nowhere (now-here), and still it is where everything always happens to us. So be sure to be here now—and not somewhere else! If our minds or hearts are elsewhere, nothing really happens to us that matters or lasts. This consciousness will teach us how to actually experience our experiences, whether good, bad, or ugly, and how to let them transform us. Words by themselves divide and judge the moment; pure presence lets it be what it is, as it is. When we can be present in this way, we will know the Real Presence, we will live in the Kingdom.
Adapted :Cynthia Bourgeault; Richard Rohr