Where to Find the Kingdom, 32nd Thursday (I), November 12, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Thursday of the 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Josaphat
November 12, 2015
Wis 7:22-8:1, Ps 119, Lk 17:20-25

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click here: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • The Pharisees in today’s Gospel asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. They were doubtless asking this within messianic expectations, that the kingdom of God would erupt by building the type of momentum to fulfill Jewish hopes in evicting the Romans from Israel and reestablishing the Davidic throne. In the question, they were probably egging Jesus on to see whether he thought he was the Messiah and what his future plans might be. But Jesus, as he is wont to do, transcended the question. He said that the inauguration of the Kingdom wouldn’t be a spectacle to be observed. There won’t be trumpets sounding. There won’t be heralds indicating that the kingdom is “here” or “there.” Rather, Jesus says, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.”
  • This means, first, that the Kingdom had already come because the King was present. The Kingdom is where the King is and Jesus was already present. Second, the Kingdom had already come because people had already embraced it, entered it and were living in it because they were living with the King. There’s a couplet in the Our Father in which we pray first “Thy kingdom come!” and then repeat it in other words, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The Kingdom of God is wherever God’s will is done, whenever one begins to live in relationship with God and his kingdom. Jesus reveals to us various other qualities about his kingdom and the conditions for entering it and living in it. He says that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are “poor in spirit,” to those who treasure God more than all the treasures of the world. He says that it belongs to those who convert and become like little children, who trust in God and accept it as a gift. He says that the kingdom is like a wedding banquet full of joy and those who live in the kingdom are those who are profoundly and serenely joyful. He says the kingdom grows like a mustard seed or yeast, imperceptible to people on the outside but the growth is real. Third, they and we should look for the kingdom and the King not just “among” us on the outside, but the Greek preposition can also mean “within.” We should seek to find the King and the Kingdom in ordinary life, in the gentle whisper, rather than in the earthquakes, hurricanes, and firestorms.
  • Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, said very powerfully back in 2000 in a talk to catechists from around the world, “The kingdom of God … is ‘not a thing.’ The Kingdom of God is God. The Kingdom of God means: God exists. God is alive. God is present and acts in the world, in our – in my life. God is not a faraway ‘ultimate cause,’ God is not the ‘great architect’ of deism, who created the machine of the world and is no longer part of it – on the contrary: God is the most present and decisive reality in each and every act of my life, in each and every moment of history.” The kingdom has come to a person when God is truly God of each and every act of one’s life.
  • Once we’re living in the kingdom in this way, all of life begins to change. We become more and more a reflection of the King we’re serving. In today’s first reading, we hear “Wisdom” described and all of these predicates can be said of the God-man who incarnates wisdom and the way the Holy Spirit, who is likewise wisdom, seeks to fill us with the gift of wisdom. When we’re living in the kingdom, we become increasingly:
    • Intelligent, capable literally of “reading between the lines of” situations and finding God and his kingdom;
    • Holy, meaning cut off from the profane, from earthly kingdoms, and “heavy” (qadosh) with God’s way of looking at things;
    • Unique, there’s nothing like God’s kingdom and nothing we wouldn’t trade for it;
    • Manifold, expressing itself in so many ways in our life;
    • Subtle, showing itself in even the most ordinary and hidden of ways and making us capable of acting with humility;
    • Agile, coming to us numerous directions and helping us get beyond obstacles;
    • Clear, filling us with light and the clarity that comes from God’s simplicity;
    • Unstained, unalloyed with mixed motives, but desiring to live blamelessly;
    • Certain, giving us a great security even in the midst of earthly uncertainty;
    • Not baneful, helping us not to become thorns in others sides but helpers;
    • Loving the good, because we see it and desire it;
    • Keen, because we’re eager to have others liv by God’s wisdom;
    • Unhampered, because we’re not carrying around the weight of our sins and earthly desires;
    • Beneficent, because God’s wisdom makes us see the charity others need and gives us the desire to do it, knowing wisely that it’s through giving in this way that we will be happy;
    • Kindly, behaving it in a way in which someone feels loved and sees the beauty of goodness;
    • Firm, because we are strengthened by the truth;
    • Secure, living in such a way that people can depend on us and build their lives on us;
    • Tranquil, because things are in order and we’re at peace;
    • All-powerful, because we wisely recognize that we can’t do anything on our own but can do all things in Him who strengthens us;
    • All-seeing, because even when things remain mysterious, we look at them with the eyes of faith and can see Christ in each circumstance;
    • Pervading all spirits, because God’s kingdom is wherever his kingdom is, wherever his Spirit is and is received;
  • When we live in this way, we become like the “aura” of God, a “pure effusion” of his glory, a “refulgence” of his light, a “spotless mirror” of his power, an “imagine of his goodness,” and “fairer than the sun.”
  • Someone who showed us how to live in this way in the kingdom is Saint Josaphat whom we celebrate today. He was born Orthodox in the Ukraine in 1580. In 1595, in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Metropolitan of Kiev and five bishops, representing millions of Ruthenians, came back into communion with Rome after the split in 1054. Josaphat would eventually become a monk and with a mentor would preach in favor of Christian unity in the midst of tremendous opposition — fundamentally political — against reunion with Rome. In 1617, he was ordained Bishop of Vitebsk and soon thereafter appointed Archbishop of Polotsk. There he continued to suffer to bring about the cause of unity. It would have been very easy for him to complain to God that all he was doing was seeking to do God’s will and was suffering tremendously as a result of it. But he was very happy to suffer because he knew that Christ the King was with him in the midst of persecution. He knew that God’s wisdom was making him secure and he sought to fill others with God’s aura and refulgence. When people were threatening to kill him, he said, “If I am accounted so worthy as to deserve martyrdom, then I am not afraid to die.” When people in the city of Vitebsk were plotting against him, he said, “You people of Vitebsk want to put me to death. You make ambushes for me everywhere, in the streets, on the bridges, on the highways, in the marketplace. I am here among you as your shepherd and you ought to know that I should be happy to give my life for you. I am ready to die for the holy union, for the supremacy of St. Peter and of his successor the Supreme Pontiff.” His enemies got their chance on November 12, 1623. He returned home after prayer to find people attacking those who worked for him. He said to the persecutors, “My children, what are you doing with my servants? If you have anything against me, here I am, but leave them alone.” They began to cry, “Kill the papist!” and he was pierced by a bullet and brained with a halberd, as he gave his life in grateful thanksgiving for the wisdom he had received, entrusting himself to God knowing that the Cross is God’s power and wisdom. And he consummated his union with the Savior who said to us at the end of today’s Gospel, “But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.”
  • Today as we come to Mass, we come her not to reject but to welcome the King within us and we ask for the grace always to remain aware of him and consciously in communion with him so that we will always dwell in his kingdom. The Kingdom of God and the King is at hand!

 

The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1 WIS 7:22B–8:1

In Wisdom is a spirit
intelligent, holy, unique,
Manifold, subtle, agile,
clear, unstained, certain,
Not baneful, loving the good, keen,
unhampered, beneficent, kindly,
Firm, secure, tranquil,
all-powerful, all-seeing,
And pervading all spirits,
though they be intelligent, pure and very subtle.
For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion,
and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity.
For she is an aura of the might of God
and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty;
therefore nought that is sullied enters into her.
For she is the refulgence of eternal light,
the spotless mirror of the power of God,
the image of his goodness.
And she, who is one, can do all things,
and renews everything while herself perduring;
And passing into holy souls from age to age,
she produces friends of God and prophets.
For there is nought God loves, be it not one who dwells with Wisdom.
For she is fairer than the sun
and surpasses every constellation of the stars.
Compared to light, she takes precedence;
for that, indeed, night supplants,
but wickedness prevails not over Wisdom.
Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily
and governs all things well.

Responsorial Psalm PS 119:89, 90, 91, 130, 135, 175

R. (89a) Your word is for ever, O Lord.
Your word, O LORD, endures forever;
it is firm as the heavens.
R. Your word is for ever, O Lord.
Through all generations your truth endures;
you have established the earth, and it stands firm.
R. Your word is for ever, O Lord.
According to your ordinances they still stand firm:
all things serve you.
R. Your word is for ever, O Lord.
The revelation of your words sheds light,
giving understanding to the simple.
R. Your word is for ever, O Lord.
Let your countenance shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
R. Your word is for ever, O Lord.
Let my soul live to praise you,
and may your ordinances help me.
R. Your word is for ever, O Lord.

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.”

 

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