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17th Week in Ordinary Time
The Kingdom of heaven is like… (Matthew 13:31)
Online map programs, satellite navigation devices, and even old-fashioned street maps can’t identify where God’s kingdom is or how to get there. So what are the markers of the kingdom? Everyone agreeing about everything and attending the same church on Sundays? Nothing but smiles and hugs? Unity and conformity?
Not really. Look at the images of the mustard seed, a large bush, a sprinkle of yeast, and a lump of dough, and you might get a better understanding of what this kingdom is and what it is not.
Jesus didn’t paint a picture of a kingdom free of difficulties and disagreements. If it weren’t for these differences, we would never see any growth or deepening of understanding. In reality, the kingdom of God is constantly spreading and bringing life, even in those places where we don’t yet see God at work. Every day, tiny seeds are sown in the world—in prisons and barrios, in boardrooms and bedrooms, in war zones and classrooms, even in the darkest places of our hearts. And every day, those seeds are watered by the Holy Spirit. Every day, they grow closer to bearing fruit, even if we don’t always perceive it.
Mind you, not all of these seeds will mature fully. But that doesn’t mean God isn’t at work. You may never see the fullness of what he is doing, and you may never see the perfection of his plans. Still, the kingdom of God is in this entire world, just as it is within you, and it’s advancing. It’s growing, even if you become sidetracked by imperfections —in you, in the people around you, and in what you see of the kingdom. Still, no matter what happens, this one thing is true: God is in control, and his plans will be fulfilled.
Today, trust that God is watching over all the seeds that have been planted, no matter what you think his kingdomlooks like. St. Paul saw many of his fellow apostles martyred. He stepped into disagreements and all manner of contention in, and between, the infant churches. The kingdom on earth was newborn and shaky. Yet he prayed with confidence that love would abound more and more, so that the kingdom would advance. That prayer is for us, too!
“Jesus, advance your kingdom in me and in the world! I place my trust in you.”
Exodus 32:15-24, 30-34
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