Sayers on the Kingdom of Heaven

Rembrandt, De terugkeer van de verloren zoon (The Return of the Prodigal Son)

“The Kingdom of Heaven,” said the Lord Christ, “is among you.” But what, precisely, is the Kingdom of Heaven? You cannot point to existing specimens, saying, “Lo, here!” or “Lo, there!” You can only experience it. But what is it like, so that when we experience it we may recognize it? Well, it is a change, like being born again and re-learning everything from the start. It is secret, living power—like yeast. It is something that grows, like seed. It is precious like buried treasure, like a rich pearl, and you have to pay for it. It is a sharp cleavage through the rich jumble of things which life presents: like fish and rubbish in a draw-net, like wheat and tares, like wisdom and folly; and it carries with it a kind of menacing finality; it is new, yet in a sense it was always there—like turning out a cupboard and finding there your own childhood as well as your present self; it makes demands; it is like an invitation to a royal banquet—gratifying, but not to be disregarded, and you have to live up to it; where it is equal, it seems unjust; where it is just, it is clearly not equal—as with the single pound, the diverse talents, the laborers in the vineyard, you have what you bargained for; it knows no compromise between an uncalculating mercy and a terrible justice—like the unmerciful servant, you get what you give; it is helpless in your hands like the King’s Son, but if you slay it, it will judge you; it was from the foundations of the world; it is to come; it is here and now; it is within you. It is recorded that the multitude sometimes failed to understand.

Dorothy Sayers, The Poetry of Search and the Poetry of Statement: On Dante and Other Writers

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