59. The kingdom of God is within you
AS Jesus went to Jerusalem, he passed through Samaria and Galilee. In a certain village ten lepers, which stood far off, lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. He said unto them,
Go shew yourselves unto the priests.
As they went, they were cleansed. And one of them turned back, and fell at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks: he was a Samaritan. Jesus said,
Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
And he said unto him,
Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
¶When Jesus was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered,
The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
And he said unto his disciples,
The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. For as the lightning, which lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyedthem all.
Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
Remember Lot’s wife.
Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Twowomen shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
They said unto Jesus, Where, Lord? He answered,
Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
¶He spake a parable to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint, saying,
There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
And the Lord said,
Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Scripture: Luke 17:11-19
Meditation 1 of 4:
What can adversity teach us about the healing power of love and mercy? Proverbs states: A friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity (Prov. 17:17). When adversity strikes you find out who truly is your brother, sister, and friend. The gospel records an unusual encounter between people who had been divided for centuries. The Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with one another. And they were openly hostile whenever their paths crossed. In this gospel narrative we see one rare exception — a Samaritan leper in company with nine Jewish lepers. Sometimes adversity forces us to drop our barriers or to forget our prejudices. When this band of lepers saw Jesus they made a bold request. They didn’t ask for healing, but instead asked for mercy.
The word mercy literally means “sorrowful at heart”. But mercy is something more than compassion, or heartfelt sorrow at another’s misfortune. Compassion empathizes with the sufferer. But mercy goes further; it removes suffering. A merciful person shares in another’s misfortune and suffering as if it were his own. And he will do everything in his power to dispel that misery. Mercy is also connected with justice. Thomas Aquinas said that mercy “does not destroy justice, but is a certain kind of fulfillment of justice. ..Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution; (and) justice without mercy is cruelty.” Pardon without repentance negates justice. So what is the significance of these ten lepers asking for mercy? They know they are in need of healing, not just physical, but spiritual healing as well. They approach Jesus with contrition and faith because they believe that he can release the burden of guilt and suffering and make restoration of body and soul possible. Their request for mercy is both a plea for pardon and release from suffering. Jesus gives mercy to all who ask with faith and contrition.
Why did only one leper out of ten — a Samaritan — return to show gratitude? Gratefulness is related to grace — which means the release of loveliness. Gratitude is the homage of the heart which responds with graciousness in expressing an act of thanksgiving. The Samaritan approached Jesus reverently and gave praise to God. If we do not recognize and appreciate the mercy shown us we will be ungrateful. Ingratitude is forgetfulness or a poor return for kindness received. Ingratitude easily leads to lack of charity and intolerance towards others. It easily leads to lack of charity and intolerance towards others, as well as to other sins, such as discontent, dissatisfaction, complaining, grumbling, pride and presumption. How often have we been ungrateful to our parents, pastors, teachers, and neighbors? Do you express gratitude to God for his mercy and do you show mercy to your neighbor?
“Lord, may I never fail to recognize your love and mercy. Fill my heart with gratitude and thanksgiving and free me from pride, discontentment, and ingratitude. Help me to count my blessings with gratefulness and to give thanks in all circumstances.”
Scripture: Luke 17:20-25
Meditation 2 of 4:
What can lightning tell us about the coming of the Lord and his kingdom? The Jews is Jesus’ time were watching in great anticipation for some sign which would indicate when the Messiah would appear to establish the kingdom of God. The Pharisees’ question on this matter was intended to test Jesus since they did not accept him as the Messiah. Jesus surprised them with the answer that the kingdom or reign of God was already here! Jesus spoke of the coming of God’s kingdom as both a present event and an event which would be manifested at the end of time. The “Day of the Lord” was understood in the Old Testament as the time when God would manifest his glory and power and overthrow the enemies of his people, Israel. The prophet Amos declared that the “Day” also meant judgment for Israel as well as the nations (Amos 5:18-20). The prophet Joel proclaimed that at this “Day” those who truly repented would be saved, while those who remained enemies of the Lord, both Jew and Gentile, would be punished (see Joel 2).
Why did Jesus associate lightning with the “Day of the Lord”? When lightning appears in the darkened sky, its powerful surge of flashing energy and dazzling light and its piercing noise strike awe and terror. You don’t need a special sign to announce its presence or to show where it is striking. It manifests itself quite clearly. In like manner, when “the son of Man comes” it will be as clear as the lightning in the heavens. No special sign will be needed to announce his imminent appearance. Jesus surprised the Jews of his time by announcing that God’s kingdom was already present among them in his very person — the Son of God sent from the Father to redeem the world from sin and destruction. Jesus promises to bring the kingdom of God to all who recognize in him the power and glory of the Father in heaven.
How does the Lord Jesus make his presence and his kingdom known to us today? Like a seed planted in fertile soil, Jesus, the sower of the soul, plants God’s kingdom first in our hearts. The kingdom begins from within and transforms our hearts to be like God’s heart — a people who know the power of his love, mercy, and forgiveness. The Lord Jesus is present in his word, in the ‘breaking of the bread’ when we come to the table of the Lord in the eucharist, and in his church — the body of Christ,. Jesus reveals himself in many countless ways to those who seek him with eyes of faith. When we read the word of God in the bible Jesus speaks to us and reveals to us the mind and heart of the Father. When we approach the table of the Lord, Jesus offers himself as spiritual food which produces the very life of God within us (I am the bread of life, John 6:35). He promises unbroken fellowship and freedom from the fear of being forsaken or cut off from everlasting life with God (John 6:37). And he offers us the hope of sharing in his resurrection. Is your hope and desire to see God face to face?
Jesus identified himself with the “Day of the Lord”. “Son of man” was understood as a Messianic title for the one who would come not only to establish God’s kingdom but who would come as Judge of the living as well as the dead. Jesus points to his second coming when he will return to complete the work of restoration and final judgment. While we do not know the time of his return, we will not mistake it when it happens. It will be apparent to all, both believers and non-believers as well. When the Pharisees asked Jesus what sign would indicate the “Day of the Lord”, Jesus replied that only one sign would point to that day and that sign was Jesus himself. In Jesus we see the power and the glory of God’s kingdom. His power overthrew the powers of darkness and sin. Jesus knew that the only way to victory was through the cross. On that cross he defeated death and canceled the debt of sin for us. The victory of his cross opens the way for us to become citizens of God’s kingdom. Do you seek the coming of God’s kingdom with joyful hope?
“Lord Jesus Christ, may your kingdom come and my your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Be the Ruler of my heart and the Master of my life that I may always live in the freedom of your love and truth.”
Scripture: Luke 17:26-37
Meditation 3 of 4:
What can nature teach us about the judgments of God? Jesus quoted a familiar proverb to his audience: Where the body is, there the eagles (or vultures) will be gathered together. Eagles, like vultures, are attracted to carrion. The Book of Job describes the eagle spying out its prey from afar (Job 39:29). What’s the point of this analogy? It’s inevitable that a thing will happen when the necessary conditions are fulfilled. The return of the Lord is certain, but the time is unknown. The Lord’s judgment comes swiftly and often unexpectedly. Jesus warns his listeners to not be caught off guard when that day arrives. It will surely come in God’s good time!
What does Jesus mean when he says that one will be taken and another left? Intimacy with a godly person does not guarantee that one will enter heaven on the day of judgment. Some may try to pass off personal responsibility to someone else, such as spouse, kin, or friend. God’s judges each person individually according to how they have lived their life and responded to his grace. No one can discharge his or her duty by proxy or association. The good news is that God gives grace, security, and refuge to those who seek him with faith and contrition. He gives us the grace to know him personally and to accept his lordship over our lives. And he gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to live each day for his kingdom, and the readiness to receive him when he returns. God’s judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life. The people in Noah’s time ignored the Lord’s warning of judgment. They missed the boat, literally! Whose boat are you taking — the world’s boat to success and happiness or God’s boat to heaven and bliss with him? Those whose hope is firmly anchored in heaven will not be disappointed when God’s judgment comes. They rejoice even now that they will see the Lord in his glory! Is your hope firmly placed in God and his kingdom?
“Lord Jesus Christ , you are my hope and salvation. Help me to never lose sight of the goal of heaven and give me fresh joy and zeal to live each day for your kingdom.”
Scripture: Luke 18:1-8
Meditation 4 of 4:
What can a shameless and unjust judge pitted against a crusty and pestering woman teach us about justice and vindication in the kingdom of God? Jesus tells a story that is all too true — a defenseless widow is taken advantaged of and refused her rights. Through sheer persistence she wears down an unscrupulous judge until he gives her justice. Persistence pays off, and that’s especially true for those who trust in God. Jesus illustrates how God as our Judge is much quicker to bring us his justice, blessing, and help when we need it. But we can easily lose heart and forget to ask our Heavenly Father for his grace and help. Jesus told this parable to give fresh hope and confidence to his disciples. In this present life we can expect trials and adversity, but we are not without hope in God. The Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices perpetrated by his creatures and that God’s love is stronger than death (Song of Songs 8:6). The just can look forward with hope to that day when they will receive their reward.
Jesus ends his parable with a probing question for us. Will you and I have faith— the faith that perseveres to the end— of time when Jesus returns in glory to judge the living and the dead? Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to us. If we want to live, grow, and persevere in the faith until the end, then we must nourish it with the word of God and ask the Lord to increase it (Luke 17:5). When trials and setbacks disappoint you, where do you place your hope? Do you pray with expectant faith and confidence in God’s merciful care and providence for you?
“Lord, give me faith to believe your promises and give me perseverance and hope to withstand trials and adversities. Help me to trust in your unfailing love and to find joy and contentment in you alone.”