The folks in Jesus’ time wanted to know a specific sign to recognize the beginning of the reign of God. They were always asking when and where it would start. What would be its characteristics? Right up to our times, people are still concerned about these questions: what, when, and where of the reign of God. Jesus answers their questions without responding to what, when, and where aspects. Consequently, at first glance, many of his answers throughout the Gospel about the reign God seems to be confusing and even to the extreme of not being an answer at all. We want exact responses. The reign of God starts on Thursday, November 16th, at 9:30AM in the back parking lot of St. Francis Church right after morning Mass. Imagine how many people would come running. There would be tents, food trucks, and souvenir sellers. There would be a traffic backup on I95 for miles. That’s the way we are. Always looking for the simplest way – what, when, and where.
While we are worried about the what, when, and where, Jesus is talking about the HOW. First of all, the reign of God had already started because he, the living Word of God in person, was right there amid the folks asking the question. The reign of God continues in our midst through the action of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, the how has to do with each of us – not a geographical location, not a flash of light, an earthquake, not a discreate moment in time, nor some shocking event. The how has to do with our personal conversion. The reign of God starts when we begin the process of surrendering ourselves to the presence and will of God.
St. Francis of Assisi looked for the reign of God in all the what, when, and where of his time and culture. He looked for it in work, studies, riches, friends, family, music, parties, war, fame, and being a hero. He only found the reign of God when he began to renounce himself. He found the reign of God when he renounced his family’s wealth. He found it in the lepers. He found it in a life of service of the poor surrounded by other friars. The lepers were always there. The option to serve others was always there. The possibility of live dependent on God’s providence had always been there.
In today’s Gospel Jesus says the reign of God is in our personal conversion. You and I are called to be the reign of God now, here, in this place and this time, in the concrete life that God has given each of us. Together united in the local faith community we form the reign of God. The faith filled conversion of renouncing our self and living to serve others is the foundation of the reign of God. The reign of God is always with us, among us, within us, and in our hearts.
No one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’
For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you