Volunteering in 1945 with his mother at a Red Cross event after the war and also visiting in 1963 a hospital for people with intellectual disabilities, Jean Vanier was touched by the scar of inhumanity and the plight of the human person. He founded L’Arche, a community of people with or without intellectual disabilities living together in a shared experience of human love and affection. Looking out for the good of one another foreshadows the life in the Kingdom of God that Jesus Christ asks us to seek (Luke 12:31a).
Seeking to live by the values of the Kingdom of God in our world today requires building a loving and caring relationship among the human family. But the religious leaders are blinded by their hypocrisy; they are oblivious of the plight of the people of God under their leadership; therefore, they miss the opportunity to live by the values of the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:1-3). Those who inflict physical and emotional distress on others have abandoned the opportunity to live by the values of the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:4). The siblings fighting over inheritance and seeking a mediator have missed the opportunity to experience family love that anticipates the family life in God’s Kingdom (Luke 12:13-14). Likewise, the self-absorbed wealthy farmer who does not treat amiably the farm workers who plant his crops and build his barns has missed an opportunity to live by the values of the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:13-21). Even the self-indulgent and cruel steward acts in a manner unbecoming of those who seek to live by the values of the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:45).
Above all, God sets the example and provides the context in which we must live as children of the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ identifies some basic necessities of human life to remind us of God’s genuine care of his children (Luke 12:22b). God’s care dissipates any state or feeling of anxiety in the life of God’s children (Luke 12:22a). Moreover, the Psalmist affirms God’s love and care upon God’s children (Psalm 33:18-20). God’s diligent care of his children (Luke 12:22-33) and God’s disposition to wait at the table (Luke 12:37; Psalm 23:5a) are examples of the values of the Kingdom of God that should guide and animate our life on earth. Ultimately, therefore, the Christian life is sharing with one another our experiences of God’s love for us. Jesus Christ proclaims three beatitudes on those who live by the values of the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:37, 38, 43).
L’Arche sets an example on how to live by the values of the Kingdom of God because in this community everyone experiences the fullness of human relationship and warmth. I believe that seeking to live by the values of the Kingdom of God includes giving young people the opportunity to experience the love of God and then live by the values that build community and friendship rather than destroy them. To live by the values of the Kingdom of God includes supporting those who are marginalized by the political and social structures that impede their human flourishing and force them into the treacherous journey across borders in search of a better life elsewhere. The values of the Kingdom of God that Jesus Christ instructs us to pursue demand that we become the voice of those in harsh and deplorable working conditions that treat them as cheap laborers. Seeking the kingdom of God, therefore, involves living by the values of that Kingdom.