Jewish expectations during the time of Jesus were dominated by the advent of a messianic leader. In other words, they awaited an aggressive, idealistic, charismatic leader with a sense of destiny. He was to come from the ancient and royal line of King David. He would restore the independent kingdom of Israel. Consequently, the Roman Army would be forced to withdraw and Jews would once again take pride in being a strong and fearsome power protected by the hand of the one true God and ruled in His name by His chosen and anointed King.
As Jesus' fame began to spread, many centred their messianic hopes on Him. At one point they literally tried to make Him their king but He drew back and went into hiding. He did not deny that He was the expected one. For that matter, He did not deny that He was a king. How could He when, after all, His person and mission were described in the Old Testament scriptures in distinctly royal terms?
The fact is that, had it not been for that Old Testament imagery, it is questionable whether Jesus would have ever applied the terms "king" and "kingdom" to His person and mission. As it was, for the sake of continuity, He did so, but with one major and constantly repeated qualification. My kingdom, He said, is not to be confused with the kingdoms of Solomon and David. My kingdom is not of this world, not territorial. I AM the one of whom the Prophets spoke, but you have misinterpreted them and, as a result, you have developed false expectations.
The Apostles had grown up with these false expectations and after having witnessed His ministry for many months, were sufficiently impatient as to urge Him to get on with it, to make His move ...to proclaim the imminent restoration of the Kingdom of Israel.
The Apostles have their echoes even today. How many of us would like to see Jesus return now and rid the world of doubt, error fear and tension and ensure an everlasting, universal peace under His sceptre?
To those of us who occasionally entertain this dream, He says, "Don't hold your breath! My kingdom is not according to popular definition." He would probably go on to elaborate in much the same words as today's Gospel. He would point out that the territory of His kingdom is to be found in the open minds and free wills of His disciples and that, He, the king, is to be found in each person with whom He so intimately identified on the cross and with whom He desires a continuing flesh and blood union in the Eucharist.
You see, the fact is that the Messiah, the King, has come. He remains with us through the Sacraments and each other; but His Kingdom is not yet fully established and will not be until the minds and wills of all of mankind are first disposed and then converted.
And so we continue to pray... "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." And, He continues to respond, "My grace is sufficient, so what are you waiting for?"