Thursday, November 15, 2012

Luke 17:20-22: Where is the Kingdom of God?

The following is from the ever-inspiring ministry

Luke 17:20-22.

Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he (Jesus) said in reply, "The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, 'Look, here it is,' or, 'There it is.' For behold, the kingdom of God is among you."

Commentary of the day (excerpt)
The Imitation of Christ, spiritual treatise of the 15th century II, ch. 1,1-2

"Among you and within you"
“God's kingdom lies within you,” the Lord says. You must turn to him, the Lord, with all your heart, and leave this wretched world behind you, if your soul is to find rest. Learn to despise this world of outward things, and devote yourself to what lies within; there, within you, you will see the coming of God's kingdom. That's what 'God's kingdom' means: “peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14,17).

Sometimes I amaze myself by over analyzing something that is simply sitting in front of me. My car keys, for instance, occasionally get lost.  While in panic mode, I desperately look for the place that I misplaced my keys.  Usually this ends up leading me to frustration and desolation.  If I take a moment, however, and look at the simplicity of the situation, I more often find my keys lying on the counter in front of me or clipped to my belt loop.  While I restlessly looked for them, they were within my reach the whole time.

Jesus says that God’s kingdom is here; it is present in our small, hectic lives.  We just need to look under our noses, or more accurately, in our hearts.  But as Thomas Kempis says in the passage above, we need to turn to God through our own free will and do what is right.  Faith in Christ is key, but we must act on that faith through works of love. Furthermore, we need to follow the moral path set before us by our Lord, Jesus Christ.  This path will lead us to the kingdom of God that “. . . lies,” as our Lord says, “within (us).”

The Navarre Bible Commentary mentions the following about this passage from St. Luke’s Gospel:

“The presence of the Kingdom of God in each soul is something one perceives
through the affections and inspirations communicated by the Holy Spirit. St.
Therese of Lisieux says this about her own experience: "The Doctor of doctors
teaches us without the sound of words. I have never heard Him speak, and yet
I know He is within my soul. Every moment He is guiding and inspiring me, and,
just at the moment I need them, 'lights' till then unseen are granted me. Most of-
ten it is not at prayer that they come but while I go about my daily duties" ("The
Story of a Soul", Chapter 8).”

When I am with my wife and children and feel the joy of love surging through me, the “affections and inspirations communicated by the Holy Spirit” are clearly present.   Listening to the prayer of consecration at Mass as the priest, acting In Persona Christi, brings Christ to the altar, my heart fills with emotion and my eyes well up.  This emotionally-moving physicality is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s affections within me. God’s kingdom is present inside of us; all we need to do is embrace His love through faith and loving action.  
St. Therese, in the above quote, has a unique sense of God’s presence in the everyday “little” tasks that we do.  When I say hello and smile to the people I come across during the day, when I allow others to go first at an intersection, when I get the door for people, when I choose to get up and help with the cleaning or cooking, when I give the last piece of food to someone else, when I offer a helping hand to someone with full hands, and when I do anything in simple service for someone else, I, like St. Therese, am experiencing God’s kingdom.  

A simple prayer:
Loving God, 

Let us live, love, and serve more through our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.