The Kingdom of God is not being prepared but has been prepared, while the sons of the Kingdom are being prepared, not preparing the Kingdom; that is to say, the Kingdom merits the sons, not the sons the Kingdom.                                     -Oswald Bayer

It is a wise man who reads this and takes it to heart.  We Christians, and particularly we clergy, tend to think of what we do as preparing the Kingdom of God for Christ's return.  But, in truth, the Kingdom has already been prepared and we are not the ones doing the preparing.  Though we often forget it, it is we who are being prepared for the Kingdom.  We are not the agents of the Kingdom but the objects -- the ones for whom the Kingdom exists, the ones to whom the Kingdom has been given, and the ones who are even now being prepared for the Kingdom (think here daily repentance and renewal, confession and absolution, sanctification and the fear of God).  Finally the Kingdom merits the sons but not the sons the Kingdom.

I wish I had compiled a list of all these great turns of phrases.  Truly there is much wisdom packed into such few words and when we miss who is driving the verbs or presume to be who we are not, the Kingdom becomes a task instead of a gift, something earned instead of something given, and that which is being worked on instead of we who are the objects and focus of the work of the Spirit, preparing us for the Kingdom which is ours by God's declaration and determination.

Particularly clergy are tempted to believe that they are preparing the Kingdom for Christ.  Pope Francis reminded all who are pastors that they are small and their works small and Christ is big.  At the end of a long Lent, a very busy Holy Week, and an Easter as tiring as exhilarating, it is easy to think more highly of myself than I ought.  I know I speak for many in facing the great temptation to magnify my work and minimize the work of the Spirit.  If people are renewed in faith and encouraged in their lives in Christ during the manifold services of Holy Week, it is not because of me.  It is, however, because of the means of grace (the Word that does what it says and the Sacraments that deliver what they sign).  It was not because of my great sermon or my exemplary service planning or my pastoral leadership of the liturgy that people were brought to the Kingdom, fed and nourished upon the grace of life, and equipped for the good works of Him who called them from darkness into His marvelous light,  No, indeed.  Sometimes the hardest thing for the Pastor to do is to get out of the way (meaning to make sure the focus is not on them but upon Christ crucified and risen).

Lord, have mercy.