The Gospel according to Luke (17:20-25)
Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, 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.” 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.”
Opening Prayer: Good and gracious God, as we spend time with your word help us to listen with our hearts so that we are moved by the grace of your message. You are present in your word and in all of us. May we hear you, see you, love you.
Encountering Christ: Isn’t it amazing how dense and ignorant many were while Jesus, the Son of God, was in their midst. Before we climb up too high on our horse let us remind ourselves that we too are guilty of either not recognizing the Kingdom of God around us or the Kingdom of God within us.
Back in 2018 when I walked the Camino de Santiago, we knew the first day would be grueling. We climbed the Pyrenes with full packs sixteen miles from the tip of France into Spain. I remember trying to focus on where I stepped because it rained heavily the day before and the ground was wet and muddy. This continued for many miles until it dawned on me what I was missing. I looked up and realized I was walking through some of the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen. There were green meadows, rolling hills, and occasionally a cottage or home nestled in a corner by a running stream with smoke billowing out of its chimney. From then on I would remind myself to look up, stop and enjoy God’s creation.
When will justice prevail? When will wrong be made right? When will we reach the end our journey, our camino and be in the presence of the Prince of Peace and no longer have to struggle and suffer? One day we will transition from our physical temples and leave all we have experienced in our mortal bodies behind. However, we do know when.
If the finish line becomes the focus then we will forget to look up and experience the grace of God present in our lives at this specific moment. Jesus tried to explain that the kingdom of God is not restricted to a time or place. There, in their presence, was the one God sent to open the gates for all so we could have the opportunity to transcend time and space. And, on a much deeper and significant level, He was trying to point out that the Kingdom was not only present but within them.
Since it has been more than two thousand years that the Son of Man walked the earth are we at a disadvantage because he is no longer among us? Again, look up. Jesus told us, showed us, made it possible for us to experience his love and presence at the last supper when He gave us His body and blood, food for the journey. God also sent the Holy Spirit to guide, teach and remind us of all Jesus said, did, and promised. And, since we are created in the image of God and we have the Kingdom of God within us then in every encounter we have with another person, even when we look in the mirror, we are in the presence of holiness.
We are all on a journey that one day will transition, not conclude, when we go home. Along the way, while doing what we need to do and want to do, let us never forget to look up and realize that we are already in the presence of the who not the when or where. Our destination is not a place it is a person. He is love, peace, mercy, and forgiveness. It is who we are. He is where we belong.
Closing Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to recognize you in others and in ourselves. It is when we are most aware of our holiness that we can share the gift of your love and mercy as you have always intended.
Action for the Day: The Kingdom of God is at hand. The Kingdom of God is within us. Spend time in prayer and meditation considering the significance of this reality then take that with you throughout your day and make this miracle a reality with everyone you encounter.