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My wife was reading aloud a sentence from the web on the history of the Berrima Gaol. “The Berrima Correctional Centre is an Australian prison, located at Berrima, New South Wales. The Centre was operational between 1839 and 2011 with a number of breaks in between”. It sounded to my ears like the prison had experienced some break-ins! Before I realised that it was one of those unfortunate homophones, I was thinking: Wow! Must be a good prison.

My mind then tracked to that difficult saying of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, in a passage describing the ministry days of John the Baptist: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of Heaven has been taken by storm and eager men are forcing their way into it.” (J B Phillips version). I thought: the eagerness of those breaking into the Berrima gaol might illustrate that sentence well.

(Most translators however take the verse – “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” – in a more negative direction, and suggest that it is describing the deeds of misguided political zealots, and jealous and grasping kings like Herod who opposed the kingdom of heaven.)

When all is said and done, the kingdom of heaven is still worth breaking into! Only one doesn’t need to break down the door, nor force the lock. One need only to knock, and door will be opened!

DM 7th May 2022


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