Issue Date: July 1, 2005
By MIKE DALEY
The kingdom of God, the experience of the presence of Gods love in our lives, has been imaged in a variety of ways -- a lost sheep, a prodigal son, a good Samaritan, and an overflowing banquet. To this list I must add the circus.
Id never before been to a circus, but in true salvific fashion, my wife won tickets. There was no way wed earned or merited these tickets. It was, like the kingdom, pure gift.
As we approached, the excitement and anticipation heightened. Tents and campers surrounded the arena. Once inside, it was a visual delight. Vendors were hawking everything from cotton candy and popcorn to hot dogs and cherry snow cones. Performers were displaying feats of athleticism and magic. What many of us consider to be impossible -- flying trapeze and high wire acts -- were proved to be possible. Music, lights and fireworks only added to the day. It was a real sacramental experience.
Partaking in this experience were children of all ages -- kids, parents, and grandparents. Much to my amazement no one was complaining. It was, although imaged a little different from the way tradition foresees it, a glimpse of the beatific vision.
What would a circus be without clowns? They were all there in a variety of shapes and sizes. As a result there wasnt a frown to be found in the crowd. If the kingdom of God is anything, it is a place of laughter. Here peoples stomachs will not only be full but hurting because of too much laughter and celebration.
This celebration of the kingdom didnt just involve humans, though, but all of Gods creation -- elephants, camels, dogs, horses, cows and lions. In an act of great trust, the trainer even put his head into the lions mouth. Through it, the Prophet Isaiahs words were made real: The lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobras den (Isaiah 11:7-8).
It was the greatest show on earth. This only convinces me further that the kingdom of God is not later but now.
Mike Daley, a writer and teacher at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, recently edited with Bill Madges Vatican II: Forty Personal Stories.
National Catholic Reporter, July 1, 2005
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