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” (Lk 17:20-21).
Many of the Pharisees were scrutinizing Jesus’ every word and action, unfortunately, with a hard heart. They were closed to the reality present before them because they were looking for ways to accuse him, to catch him, to have cause to show him to be a fraud. They were closed to the actual events happening around Jesus that the blind saw, the deaf heard, the lame walked, lepers, were healed, the dead had arisen, and the poor had the good news proclaimed to them (cf. Matthew 11:5).
They missed the very reality that the Kingdom of God was in their midst. We see this very much today through the mental posturing of “scientism”, the belief that the only reality is that which can be measured empirically, through the five senses. Scientists have brought about many advances and innovations that we enjoy today, yet there is a reality beyond the physical. This is the spiritual, which transcends time and space, transcends the three-dimensional reality that we experience and are aware of through our senses. We understand the world around us better when we embrace both science and theology, the physical and the spiritual, as well as our reason and our faith.
If our mind is closed to an idea, a reality, and/or a belief we will not only resist believing, we will also seek rationalizations to explain it away as did some of the Pharisees. From a hypersensitivity to accept only the physical, we can brush off acts of synchronicity as mere coincidence. Yet, if we are open to the spiritual reality of interconnectedness beyond that which we can measure in a finite way, these incidences can be termed, God-incidences.
We cannot solve or prove God like a problem because God is not in the genus of being, he is not an animal, a human, an angelic, spiritual, or even a supreme being. There are no words to adequately describe him. We can say more about what he is not than what or who he is! The best attempts we have are that God is an Infinite Act of Existence or the phrasing of St Thomas Aquinas, Ipsum Esse Subsistens – The sheer act of ‘to be’ itself, or as God said to Moses, “I am, who am” (Exodus 3:14). God is completely transcendent, beyond categories, beyond genus, beyond the grasp of our finite minds, yet we can experience him because God is closer to us than we are to ourselves.
We will not encounter God by forcing him to come to us on our own terms, by attempting to force-fit him into our finite conceptions. God meets us where we are and as we are, on his terms. As we open ourselves to his presence, accept his invitation, he then helps us to expand, to experience more broadly, who we, others, and our world are. We experience this best when we truly love, when we go out from our own self-centered stance to will the good of another. We become more when we follow what truly brings us joy and fulfills us. We encounter God through embracing the wonders of his creation!
As Jesus said to Philip, “Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). The Kingdom of God is among us because Jesus is who he said he is. Jesus is fully God and fully man in our midst. By his very presence, he shows us that there is not an opposition or competition but a union between heaven and earth. We will never fully comprehend God, but we can come to know and understand him, ourselves, and the world around us better when we breathe with both lungs of faith and reason. We need to embrace our intellect as well as our spirit. As St. John Paul II stated, “Faith without reason is superstition” and as attributed to Albert Einstein, “Reason without faith is boring.”
Photo: Georges Lemaître, priest and astrophysicist, father of the Big Bang theory with Albert Einstein in 1933.