Back to: Sermons | Monastic Wisdom | Rule of Life | Cowley Magazine | Growing a Rule of Life

Within Us and Among Us: Week 5 | Day 2

As we cultivate God’s Kingdom within us, we naturally desire to foster God’s Kingdom among us, by selflessly serving others. Br. Nicholas Bartoli explores how each individual’s way of fostering the Kingdom will be responsive to our unique individuality and vocation as a member of Christ’s Body.

Question: What desire do you feel within yourself to change the world for the better?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Icons of Hope


Transcript: So we’re now looking at the fourth mark of mission, transforming unjust structures of society, and pursuing peace.

In another of the videos of this series, I talked about the kingdom within.  However, whenever Jesus spoke about God’s kingdom, he spoke about it as both within and among us, and so there is this – in fact, there is sort of – a relationship between the two: that as we cultivate the kingdom within us, this awareness of God’s presence and His loving presence within us, that we would naturally desire to serve selflessly out of love in the world, and foster the kingdom of God among us.

In fact, you could say that the kingdom of God among us, and this working towards of kingdom among us, is a fruit of fostering this kingdom within us.  And in fact, in a few places Jesus talks about how you can sort of tell someone by the fruit.  So it’s not just enough just to feel like well, you know, maybe I’m cultivating the kingdom of God within me.  But the litmus test in community is, “Is this manifesting itself among the community” – the small community, the wider community, the world – “in terms of how I’m taking action in the world? You know, what do I desire, how does this motivate me?”

And this selfless service can take many forms.  You know, this sort of sense of the kingdom of God within us as an inner peace might motivate us to seek to instill peace among us in various ways, either by our presence, by our helping in various ways, and of course, there is a distinction that we can be of service in very sort of practical small ways, or we can look on a larger scale, and try to address the questions of the structures that perpetuate some of the injustices that we’re seeing.

You know, an example that comes to mind might be working with people who live on the streets, with the homeless population.  So, you know, in a way it’s sort of a vocational question.  Both people might be motivated out of their own sense of God’s kingdom within themselves to address this problem. But one person might be called to work on a very local level, working in a food pantry, serving meals, becoming friends with some of the people who live on the street, and helping in that way to bring peace on that level.  While someone else might be called to work on a larger level, and work toward eradicating the structural causes for homelessness, so that perhaps one day we can see this problem eradicated.

So one question we can ask ourselves is – in terms of being called to foster the kingdom of God among us, you know – where do we see ourselves taking action?  What desire do we feel within us to change the world for the better, to make it the kingdom of God?

– Br. Nicholas Bartoli

Question: What desire do you feel within yourself to change the world for the better?

Week 5 Activity: Icons of Hope
Icons are images that open us up. They act as windows that let the light of God shine in. This week’s activity invites you to compose your own “icon” for the Kingdom of God. Draw or paste in pictures that help you recall God’s vision, to create a collage that lets God’s light shine in.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

9 thoughts on “Within Us and Among Us: Week 5 | Day 2

  1. I feel deeply called to work for social justice in the world, but more importantly in my own backyard. I like to work within a 15-mile radius of my home. That gives me enough to do for a lifetime. Specifically, I want to feed the hungry and the homeless, walk the journey with those who seek my companionship and/or help during a sickness or a divorce or financial difficulties or problems with their children… There is just so much to do if we will just open our eyes to see. There are disadvantaged communities because of race or income, and these communities need help on many levels: affordable housing, education, transportation, crime. I can’t fix all the problems, and certainly not on my own, but I can do my best day in and day out to make a difference and to help foster the kingdom of God.

  2. While I was working full-time, my service to the community was accomplished through financial contributions to mission work and local human services organizations. In retirement I expected to begin volunteering as well. That has not yet happened after my first year of retirement, and I am not sure why. I know that I have 2 part-time jobs, but I am unwilling to believe that work is preventing me from volunteering. This homily will serve to prod me to take a serious examination of my values as they lead to my behaviors.

  3. Right now we are just beginning a transition time at our church. I am one of the co-chairs and so I am looking at how our church can open its doors, lead us outside to relate better with those who are under-churched or not churched at all. I’m praying for thoughts and ideas that we can incorporate into action for a more inclusive Christ following environment.

  4. My desire is a focus on my community, which faces many challenges, including poverty and crime; I hope to address these issues in hands-on ways which offer hope and a promise of a better future.

  5. For ten years a group of volunteers from our church has been providing meals to people in need at a neighborhood park. Sometimes people from other churches join us but it’s been headed by a group of ladies in their 70’s. Were are losing more of our volunteers and are faced with the challenge of shifting the model to that of a food pantry. As the e opportunities diminish for those we serve, we’re wondering how we can do both with the limited manpower we have? Or concerned about the families who will be impacted when we shift or services.

  6. This year I have worked a few times helping with preparing meals for the homeless and in my church’s food pantry. I will be doing more of that starting in May. I have always enjoyed being in service to others. It fulfills me on a much deeper level and expresses God’s love for all. I volunteer within the community and donate whenever I can. I always wish I could do more though because I want to help in so many areas.

  7. The way I see it is very similar to what I observed when I went to the bank today. There were six bank employees sitting in their little cubicles with five customers talking about finances, I suppose, and one bank teller taking care of ten people standing in line (two ladies of which were obviously too old and weak to stand for very long because one left and the other went to sit down). At the risk of not being politically correct: Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians. If the people who had the where-with-all to work toward eradicating the homeless problem worked at the local level, working in the pantry, serving meals, becoming friends with some of the people who live on the street, and help to bring peace on that level, they would understand the needs of the homeless and know that they should give more of themselves. Jesus was the most important person to walk this earth, but He didn’t sit up on a mountaintop and try to devise a plan for feeding the hungry and then tell His disciples to go down into the cities and feed the poor. He did it. He walked among us. He led by example. Jesus was the epitome of being a servant. So many people think they have the answer to eradicating hunger when all we need is to have everyone who can, do it.

  8. Being somewhat of an “old hippy”, I am one of those people who likens Peace & Love to Godliness. Those who know me sense the spiritual strength which comes with such practice, and I have been able to lead several people through some troubling times, simply by allowing them to tell me their troubles, and considering them together, then exploring peaceful, loving, and level-headed ways of first coping, and then of healing. So I guess one of my “desires” would be to try to guide people in a more positive, self-loving direction, therefore making their own worlds better … one person at a time.

  9. I kinda responded to this in yesterday’s prophetic witness discussion. because I feel so passionately about the great dangewr this world is in, I am exploring some form of participation in Project Ploughshares. This is in addition to responding to all the opportunites God puts before me to help others and heal myself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *