Luke 17:20-25 (ESV)
The Lord said, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” 22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
Glory be to Jesus Christ!
Sometimes, it seems like the only thing that will make our situation better is an intervention from God. We feel powerless to oppose evil, and our efforts to work good are so small, and so often ignored, that they seem pointless. In circumstances like these, we sometimes half-joke that it would be nice if Christ came now; that would save us a lot of trouble, and we could enjoy our reward in his kingdom.
Today’s Gospel reminds us that we still have work to do before the end; or rather, that Christ still has work to do through us. We can’t get distracted by over-eager expectation of his return, until we see the kingdom of God in our midst (or within us, depending on the translation). We must learn to see God’s presence in our own hearts, whatever our circumstances, and allow Christ and his Spirit to work through us to make our churches into icons (however imperfect) of the heavenly kingdom – in other words, that we recognize Christ’s coming, through the Spirit, in the Church and in each of us. Today’s gospel suggests that if we don’t recognize this hidden coming of Christ, between his first and final comings, we won’t be able to recognize the final coming; or, put in another way, we won’t like it when we do see it. Without losing sight of Christ’s final coming, let’s look into our communities, and our hearts, to see how much room has been made for his kingdom so far.