One of the best parts of being a dad is that I have a good excuse for wandering down the toy aisles and buying the coolest toys again. The best of all toy aisles is the Lego aisle! I bought my daughter a new Lego set for her birthday and she eagerly got to work building her new castle.
I had originally expected my daughter would need my assistance to build the Lego castle, but I was surprised to observe she was more than capable of building it herself. She carefully examined the drawings in the instruction book, searched through the available pieces to find what she needed, and carefully turned and connected the pieces to match the images in the instructions. When she finished building, she enjoyed playing with the Lego princesses together with her sister.
As I watched her building the Lego set, I reflected on how we build the Kingdom of God. The Lego project began with my daughter receiving the box. On the front of the box is a beautiful picture of the assembled project. Before beginning a project, it is helpful to get a vision of what the finished product will be like. This builds up our excitement and our enthusiasm and helps us evaluate our progress since we know what we are striving towards.
Jesus spent much of his public ministry proclaiming the Kingdom of God and showing us what it will be like. What could be more exciting than imagining life with no more suffering, no more pain, no more tears, and no more sadness. Being in communion with God and with each other will be indescribably awesome! Imagining what this would be like builds up my excitement and enthusiasm for building the Kingdom of God!
That picture on the front of the box makes us excited to build the Lego castle, but attempting to build it with just that picture would be overwhelming. Hearing what the Kingdom of God will be like is exciting, but it is overwhelming when we consider the violence and suffering in the world today. We have a long way to go. Thankfully, the Lego set doesn't leave us with the picture of the finished product. It gives a book with step by step instructions. When the project was broken down into small steps, my daughter successfully built the castle just a couple bricks at a time.
Just as we don't build a Lego set in a single step, we don't build the Kingdom of God in a single moment. A Lego castle is built by adding one brick at a time. While it may be overwhelming to consider the immensity of the change that needs to occur to get from today's world to the fully established Kingdom of God, it is not so overwhelming to take one more small step. We cannot bring an end to all sickness in the world, but we can bring dinner to one person who is sick to give them a little bit of comfort. I cannot provide a loving home for everyone in the world, but I can offer hospitality and invite a friend to spend some time in my home. She cannot bring an end to all the violence in the world, but she can bite her tongue before starting another fight with a family member. You cannot end all tears and sadness in the world, but you can take the time to wipe one person's tears. He cannot end all poverty in the world, but he can choose to share his toys with a friend. We may not be able to see Christ face to face, but we can receive him in the Eucharist. I can give generously, I can walk away from gossip, I can eat lunch with the person who is alone, I can tell the truth, I can smile at a stranger, I can be patient, I can hit delete instead of hitting forward, I can respect my parents, I can say I'm sorry, I can offer forgiveness, I can read Scripture and pray in the morning. You can't do every good deed every day, but you can do at least one good deed today.
Sometimes it may be hard to believe that small acts of kindness and little moments of faith are actually getting us closer to the Kingdom of God. Sometimes it's not clear how a couple of Lego bricks stuck together will eventually become a castle. At these moments, it's important to remember that the Kingdom belongs to God and ultimately God will bring it to fulfillment. Until then we continue to take one small step at a time. Lent is the perfect time to take a few more steps. Each time we give generously of our money or our time in Lenten almsgiving, we are getting a little closer to the Kingdom of God. Take some time this Lent to think about how you might practice almsgiving to build up the Kingdom of God. We may not be able to bring about the fullness of the Kingdom of God, but we can add one more brick.