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Does the Kingdom of God Really Mean What I Think It Does?

November 12, 2020   Memorial of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr (Lectionary: 494)

Reading 1   PHMN 7-20

Beloved:
I have experienced much joy and encouragement from your love,
because the hearts of the holy ones
have been refreshed by you, brother.
Therefore, although I have the full right in Christ
to order you to do what is proper,
I rather urge you out of love,
being as I am, Paul, an old man,
and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus.
I urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus,
whose father I have become in my imprisonment,
who was once useless to you but is now useful to both you and me.
I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.
I should have liked to retain him for myself,
so that he might serve me on your behalf
in my imprisonment for the Gospel,
but I did not want to do anything without your consent,
so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.
Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while,
that you might have him back forever,
no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother,
beloved especially to me, but even more so to you,
as a man and in the Lord.
So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.
And if he has done you any injustice
or owes you anything, charge it to me.
I, Paul, write this in my own hand: I will pay.
May I not tell you that you owe me your very self.
Yes, brother, may I profit from you in the Lord.
Refresh my heart in Christ.

Responsorial Psalm   PS 146:7, 8-9A, 9BC-10

R. (5a) Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who were bowed down;
the LORD loves the just.
The LORD protects strangers.
R. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.
R. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Alleluia   JN 15:5
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the vine, you are the branches, says the Lord:
whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   LK 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.”

By Paula Shute

I was sitting on the beach with a dear friend. The sunrise peaked above the waves, the seagulls flew around each other in circles, and the two of us prayed with the scriptures amidst the beauty. Somehow, the conversation turned to a passage we hadn’t prayed with before. My friend explained something that she learned and loved in school: when Jesus talks about the “Kingdom of God,” He tells us of the Church as it is now.

His metaphors for the Kingdom of God are often paraphrased and missed. 

The Kingdom of God (the Church as it is now) is not the pearl of great price, but the merchant in search of the pearl. The Church seeks. I had always thought, with all of my Catholic formation, that the Kingdom of God referred to Heaven. But here Jesus speaks of how the Kingdom of God is now. The now of God is the Church.

“No one will announce, ‘Look, here it is.’”

In my high school days, I waited for a lot of signs from God. Much like the Pharisees in the Gospel, I found myself wondering when the sky would alight and I’d know all the answers. When we constantly search for signs, we miss Jesus and His call to His Church now.  This includes, and here is the scary part, suffering. Jesus tells those standing right in front of Him that they will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but they will miss it. I think if those staring into the eyes of Christ can miss Him because of their desire for signs, then I am at an even greater risk of missing Him. 

I must do my best to listen and love when a friend comes to speak to me about struggles, even when it’s hard for me to focus, or I risk  breaking an already broken heart.

I must accept the daily annoyances of a life I hadn’t planned on or I will miss the good parts in this life I hadn’t planned on. 

I must pray for the virtues I am lacking in this season: diligence, patience, and charity. If I don’t, I risk becoming small and broken instead of expansive and thriving. 

I must ask to live in the present and to live out my direct call for serving the Church, the kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is now. Let’s get cracking.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Paula Shute loves wine, coffee, cats, and Jesus---not in that order. Her full time work is currently in Alumni Relations. Part-time, you’ll find her teaching theology, directing Shakespeare, and attempting to make the world a better place (with a few complaints along the way). She’s an INFP, so idealism comes easy. As she’s grown the past few years, her heart simply longs to rest in the peace from the Father.

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