First, we turn to the Lord and his example:
Jesus gradually reveals the characteristics and demands of the kingdom through his words, his actions and his own person.
This is why the imitation of Christ is so very important for believers. We are not just spectators of Jesus, viewing an extraordinary life and example from a distance, from the perspective of history. We are invited, urged to follow. He lived two thousand years ago, though. How do we follow? We do what he did, as best we can. Who is called to do this? Every human being:
The kingdom of God is meant for all (humankind), and all people are called to become members of it. To emphasize this fact, Jesus drew especially near to those on the margins of society, and showed them special favor in announcing the Good News. At the beginning of his ministry he proclaimed that he was “anointed…to preach good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18). To all who are victims of rejection and contempt Jesus declares: “Blessed are you poor” (Lk 6:20). What is more, he enables such individuals to experience liberation even now, by being close to them, going to eat in their homes (cf. Lk 5:30; 15:2), treating them as equals and friends (cf. Lk 7:34), and making them feel loved by God, thus revealing his tender care for the needy and for sinners (cf. Lk 15:1-32).
It is no accident that Pope John Paul II uses prominent examples from the third Gospel. The testimony of Saint Luke is especially poignant. He roots the Lord’s ministry in the prophetic tradition of the Old Testament: a worldwide option for those in need of liberation.
Many Christians do not realize that the roots of the first century apostolic vector that carried the Gospel deep into Asia, Africa, and across Europe are found in the later prophets–the promise and expectation that the mercy of God will be extended beyond the borders of faithful Israel. Jesus was surely aware of this, and he endorsed the impulse to evangelize every human soul on the planet.
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