In this Gospel passage, Jesus gives some practical advice to help his followers stay on the right path. He begins by offering a warning about staying grounded in the truth of what the words “Kingdom of God” truly means. Let us consider three points we can draw from this short passage:
1. To find the kingdom of God, we need to look no further than exactly where we are.
“Do not go off, do not run in pursuit.” (Luke 17: 23)
Do not be distracted by the world pointing at signs here and there as the path to the Kingdom. Jesus assures us that we will not accidentally miss it! It is present right where we are. It can be very tempting to chase after all kinds of signs, and yet the real work Christ asks of us is right before our own eyes. Look around. Who and what do we see? Perhaps the family members in our homes, the colleagues at work, the parishioners at our church, even the strangers in the store or on the road. All of these are innately part of the work Christ has for us to do. Each is a soul and situation in front of us for a reason. Let us ask Jesus to open our eyes to the reality of the kingdom work he has for us right now, right here.
2. The Kingdom of God is both an external and internal event; both are happening simultaneously.
“For behold, the kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17:21)
In order to build the kingdom of God on earth, we must also ask God to build it within us. As the saying goes, we cannot give what we do not have.
But how does one cooperate in this building, both internally and externally? Frankly, there is nothing we can do on our own. We must simply ask for it and fully surrender to all the Father has in store. The Kingdom of God is built by His Grace alone. Therefore, we must ask for the grace to pray as Mary did – with her full fiat: “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Is this not the example of Jesus as well: “Not my will but yours be done” (Matthew 26: 39)? Let us ask Jesus now to take our wills, and to give us His in return. This is what he taught us in the Our Father. We need not be afraid of His Will because He is always fully present within it. All we are really asking is to never be separated from Him.
3. Do not be disheartened by external circumstances but believe!
“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.” (Luke 17: 24-25)
The suffering we see going on in the world is never evidence of God’s absence. It is rather the result of man’s choice to be absent from the Father. It is evidence of our desperate need for him, and the consequences of choosing what is not of Him. But even these external sufferings must not be cause for despair or hopelessness. No!
When we give our hearts fully to the Father, the result is always overwhelming assurance of His love and providence. When we live a life of prayer and joyful sacrifice nourished by the sacraments, then we are supercharged with kingdom eyes, eyes that can see past the worldly cares and concerns to the fidelity and love of the Father who is building a Kingdom of Love that will last forever!