Thursday November 11, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Philemon 7-20) Gospel (St. Luke 17:20-25)
Our Lord is asked by the Pharisees in the Gospel reading today when the kingdom of God would come, and His answer is quite interesting. He answers it in two different ways.
Number one, He tells us it is not something that can be observed because it is something that is within. The kingdom of God is already within each one of us who is baptized into Jesus Christ. Now that means that in this kingdom of God our hearts must be the very throne upon which Our Lord is enthroned; we have to give ourselves over to Him. And that kingdom of God is one that is a matter of justice; it is a matter of virtue; it is a matter of love. That is, again, exactly what should be seen in each one of us. Rather than the kingdom of God initially being an external thing, in this case it must be first and foremost internal. Before the world can be transformed into the kingdom of God, each one of us individually must be transformed to be the kingdom of God. What has to happen in order to transform the world is that individual Christian people have to be living according to the ways of Jesus Christ. We have to be living as that kingdom because it is within each one of us. It is something that is spiritual and it has to do with our relationship with Jesus Christ.
So we are called, then, to live a life of true holiness. That is what it is to be the kingdom of God. That is, if God dwells within each one of us and our souls therefore become heaven because they become the very dwelling place of God, our lives should reflect the order and the holiness of eternity. Our souls – and, therefore, our lives – should reflect the very holiness of God. So you can ask yourself, “What is heaven going to be like?” And then ask yourself, “Do I live that way? Is that what people see when they see me, a little slice of heaven?” I do not suppose most of us would be able to answer in the affirmative to that. Even though the kingdom of God is within, we have put a bushel basket over the top of the candle. We are not allowing that light to shine through us.
Now the Lord tells us also, regarding the kingdom of God in the universal sense, that it is not something you are going to be able to say, “Here He is,” or, “There He is,” and He says, “Don’t go running around looking for anything. The day the Son of Man returns is going to be like lightning flashing across the sky.” It is going to be an instantaneous thing. It is not something that anyone is going to be able to predict, and it is not something that is going to last very long. When the Son of Man returns, it will be the end of the world; therefore, it will be the point of judgment. The world and all the elements of the universe are going to pass away in fire. And so it is not something that we are going to be able to run around and say, “Let me see if I can see the Lord, see if I can get plane tickets to wherever He is.” There is not going to be any time for that sort of thing. When the Lord returns, He is coming back as the Judge. He will judge the world and He will judge each and every individual in it. There is not going to be time to be running around looking for Him, so that is not what we have to be seeking.
But there is a place where we can find Our Lord, and that is right within our own selves; and, of course, in the Blessed Sacrament He is with us at all times. We do not have to worry about running around trying to see where He is because we know where He is. He is right in the tabernacle, He is in the monstrance in those places that have perpetual adoration, and He is right in our hearts if we are in the state of sanctifying grace. And so the kingdom of God has to be established within us before it is ever going to be established outside of us. Rather than worrying about the Second Coming and where it might be and seeing if we can find Him, He has made it very simple for us to find Him. Just go inside, because that is where He wants to dwell, that is where He wants to be enthroned, and that is where He wants His kingdom to be first established: in the hearts and the souls of those who believe in Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.