11.15.18 Thurs. wk. 32 – O. T. – (II)
St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon -Verses: 7 – 20
Luke 17: 20 – 25
Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he 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.”
Then he said to his disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.” The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy The Kingdom of God Within
†Jesus said to the Pharisees: “For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in His day.” (Luke 17:24) Why did †Jesus associate Himself with lightning – with the day of the Lord?
In the arid climate of the Middle East – storms can appear suddenly – and just come out of nowhere. The lightning lights up the entire sky all of a sudden – you don’t expect it. There are a lot of flash floods in the Middle East, especially in the canyons and the wadi’s, because of these sudden storms that show up.
†Jesus identified Himself with the Day of the Lord. “Behold, the Kingdom of God is among you”. (Luke 17:21) The religious authorities at the time, as we know, could not accept †Jesus because He didn’t seem to fulfill the ancient prophecies of who the Messiah or the Son of God was supposed to be. †Jesus was born in obscurity in the small little village of Bethlehem about three miles from Jerusalem. No one really knew about it except Herod the Great and his councilors. And now, all of a sudden – He comes on the scene – declaring that He is: “The Son of Man”. (Just like that lightning that all of a sudden flashes in the sky.) †Jesus came, however, without any fanfare when He was born in the world – surprising those who were waiting for the political king. But also in this passage, †Jesus is referring to His second coming – a time of judgment on the world.
For those with faith – for those who are truly waiting for the Lord – the Kingdom of God already dwells within them – but not yet in its fullness. Are we living with the Kingdom of God within us now? John Cassian was a 5th century spiritual author who wrote: “The only thing that can be ‘within us’ is the knowledge or ignorance of the truth, the affection for righteousness or sin by which we prepare our hearts to be a Kingdom of Christ or of the devil”. (Conference 1.134.5 ©2018 Servants of the Word) So – what John Cassian is asking is: “Which is within us”? Is it the ‘Kingdom of Life’ that dwells within us – or is it the ‘kingdom of darkness’ that dwells within us? The choice is ours.
How did St. Paul describe the nature of the Kingdom? In his Letter to the Romans he wrote: “For the Kingdom of God is not matter of food or drink but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. (Rom.14:17) The sign that the Kingdom lives within us, the Spirit of Christ lives within us is when righteousness, peace, and joy are daily expressions in our life.
Again, from John Cassian: “Someone that remains in unrighteousness, conflict and melancholy, that kills the life of the Spirit, is already a citizen of the devil’s kingdom” (ibid.). These words should give us pause – we should reflect upon them in our lives. Let me repeat that again. “Someone that remains in unrighteousness conflict and melancholy – that kills the life of the Spirit is already a citizen of the devil’s kingdom”.
How did †Jesus demonstrate the presence of the Kingdom of God in His life? †Jesus loved, forgave, blessed and healed people. †Jesus did not hold grudges – He did not distance Himself form the poor or the marginalized – nor did He act in an arrogant or entitled manner. †Jesus lived the virtue of forgiveness over trying to get even with someone. †Jesus taught with His life: if the Kingdom of God is within us, we choose to serve rather than be served. We choose to love sacrificially – rather than live selfishly.
How can we make the ‘Kingdom of God’ present in our lives? We might start with ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ – help people – do things for people – do something for your classmates (speaking directly to the students who are present) – help mom at home – be nice to your brother or sister. Those are the ways we can say: “The Kingdom of God is right there, right here with me”. Do things for people without being asked to do them – or do things they don’t expect. That’s a good way to start – to open our hearts to the Kingdom of God – to love others freely – without the sense of obligation or the desire to get something in return.
St. Cyril of Alexandria was another 5th century author and Doctor of the Church. He wrote: “Be eager that you may be found worthy (of the ‘Kingdom of Heaven). It is within you. That it is it depends on your own will and is in your own power whether or not you receive it.” (Homily 117) It is within our power to choose: “Am I a ‘Death Dealer’ or am a ‘Life Giver’”?
Is the ‘Kingdom of God’ – today – within you?
The Gospel of the Lord.