We live in a fallen world where suffering, violence, hatred, anxiety, and fear abound and this reality does not appear to be changing any time soon. Yet, there is still cause for hope. Jesus says in the opening of today’s Gospel: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
Unfortunately, far too many do not find comfort in these words. A common complaint is “Well, Jesus said these words some two thousand years ago, I do not see any kingdom, and not only has this world not gotten any better, but it also seems to be getting worse!” To say or buy into this perspective is to miss what God’s kingdom is.
The first words that we have recorded from the beginning of the ministry of Jesus were, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). What Jesus said then and is saying to us now is that the kingdom of God is about a relationship and a relationship happens person to person and builds slowly over time.
Jesus came to restore the relationship that has been lost with his Father. We live in a fallen world because we have forgotten who we are, that we are children of God. Instead of our primary focus being the building and strengthening our relationship with God, we are distracted and led astray by so many other material pursuits. We are putting ourselves first. We are the priority instead of God and each other. There is suffering, pain, and deep hunger in the world because too many are selfish and self-centered.
Our Father is pleased to offer us the kingdom, relationship with him, but we refuse to accept his gift. Instead of looking to that which is above, we are diverted and entranced by the things here below that only wither and fade. Our world will not change until we make a change, person by person, one relationship at a time.
The kingdom of God is in our midst. Jesus has his arms wide open to receive us. All we need to do is repent, turn back to him, and run into his loving embrace. Then step by step, encounter by encounter, as we are more open and willing to hear and share the will of God, we will better be able to build relationships that are lasting and true. Heaven and earth become one each time we receive the love of God and share it with one another.
Photo: Spending time in Jesus’ embrace in the chapel at the Sisters Disciples of the Divine Master, Los Angeles. We put God first in our lives when we spend time with him in Mass, adoration, prayer, fellowship, and serving one another in love