About the Kingdom

Luke 17: 20-25
Wis 7:22b—8:1 / Ps 119

…the kingdom of God is within you.
(Luke 17:21b)

May the Lord grant us the wisdom
To obey all that He designed;
The reward of heaven’s kingdom
Is the treasure we hope to find.

Once, upon being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Then He said to His disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in His day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” (Luke 17:20-25)

Reflection

The Pharisees were obviously asking a trick question, because if Jesus had let on that He could foretell the coming of the kingdom of God (the “endtimes”), then they could accuse Him of claiming to be the equal of God, a blasphemy that could spell His death sentence. Or they could accuse Him of sedition against the Romans, if His kingdom was a political one. But our Lord’s reply revealed how little the Pharisees knew about the “kingdom” that Jesus was talking about. He told them that the coming of the kingdom of God was not something that could be seen, as in fact it was already in their midst (the ministry that He was performing), but they could not “see” (believe) it. They remained blind to the presence of God Himself.

The kingdom of God (or the “kingdom of heaven”) appears 72 times in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In fact, it is the central theme in most of the teachings of Jesus in His ministry. He emphasized to His followers to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well” (Mt.6:33). Perhaps this is the reason why in the prayer that He taught His disciples, the first supplication was “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” The kingdom of God is something that will indeed come into our life, as a result of our obedience to His will. It is the sum of all our prayers, good works, and meditations on the Word of God as we become members or subjects of His kingdom.

How do we become members of God’s kingdom? The answer is found in the Gospel of John, where Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, and our Lord told him, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (Jn.3:3). When Jesus saw that Nicodemus did not understand, He repeated (more specifically), “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. (Jn.3:5) Thus, we became members of the kingdom of God when we were baptized with water, and later with the Spirit (in the sacrament of Confirmation). In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul said we are “members of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on Him, into one holy temple in the Lord; and we too, in Him, are being built into a house where God lives in the Spirit” (Eph.2:20-22). This may explain how “the kingdom of God is within you.”

Lord God, Sovereign over all creation, we thank You for the hope of one day entering Your kingdom in heaven, to worship You and our Savior and King, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

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