SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Wis 7:22 – 8:1
; Ps 119:89-91
; Lk 17:20-25
Many people are curious about the Second Coming of Christ. It is the general expectation that with the Second Coming of Christ, “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:4) This world will come to an end and there will be “a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” (Rev 21:1) This is the apocalyptic understanding of eschatology, the end time. It is believed that the reign of evil would be so strong that God would allow evil to destroy this world so that a new world could come about.
Indeed, there are people who point to the signs of today’s world. Firstly, on the ecological level, there is the abuse of creation because of the selfishness of man. The present humanity uses this world without thinking about the future generation. Creation is destroyed by wanton deforestation and pollution. As a result, we are already experiencing global warming. The temperature has increased by 1 degree centigrade. This has caused severe impact on the weather and creation. The Poles are melting, causing sea levels to rise, resulting in flooding. Because the ozone layer is depleted, heatwaves are causing drought. There is less food on land and sea. If the global temperature increases by 3 degrees centigrade, we will be at the tipping point with vegetation disappearing, rivers drying up, super hurricanes becoming the norm, causing mass displacements. If the temperature rises by another 5 degrees, it is posited that there will be mass extinction, with 70% land animals and 90% sea animals wiped off the face of the earth.
Then again, some think the world might be coming to an end because of the conflicts in the world among superpowers. If the world gets caught up in another world war, there will be mass destruction of lives such that we have never seen before. The world would be destroyed by the selfishness of man wanting more and more for themselves. Because of relativism, leading to a loss of moral values, this world is becoming a more unsafe place to live in. Ultimately, with society falling into moral decadence, the amorality of the world will lead to the destruction of the human being.
However, there are those who hold the prophetic view of eschatology. They believe that this world would not be destroyed but transformed. It would be transfigured at the end of time. The New Heaven and the New Earth would come about when everyone embraces the values of the kingdom of God. In other words, it would take time for the world to be purified and to grow. This is what the Lord said, “Make no move; do not set off in pursuit; for as the lightning flashing from one part of heaven lights up the other, so will the Son of Man when his day comes. But first he must suffer grievously and be rejected by this generation.” There will be wars, persecution, sufferings and misery but all these are necessary preparations for the kingdom of God to mature.
Within this context, the Pharisees asked the Lord, when the kingdom of God would come. Regardless of the position we hold on the end time, Jesus is more concerned about the Kingdom that is already here, even if it is just budding. Jesus said, “The coming of the kingdom of God does not admit of observation and there will be no one to say, ‘Look here! Look there!’ For, you must know, the kingdom of God is among you.” Whether this world would be totally destroyed and a new one will come about, or whether this world would be gradually transformed into a new heaven and a new earth, is not as important as the fact that this kingdom is already a reality in our midst, and it is already growing each day. Instead of worrying about when it would finally come, we should be concerned about the kingdom now.
When Jesus said, “the kingdom of God is among you”, He meant that the kingdom is growing within us. When we allow the values of the gospel, of justice, peace and love to reign in our lives, then the kingdom is in our midst and in us. “For the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ (Rom 14:17) If we live the Beatitudes of the gospel and the Sermon on the Mount, we live a blessed life because such is the life of the kingdom. What is necessary for us to have a foretaste of the kingdom of God is to begin living this life and letting the peace, joy and justice of the Holy Spirit grow in our hearts. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal 5:22-24)
Conversely, St Paul warns us about those who would not enter the kingdom of God.He said, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor 6:9f) If we allow sin to reign in our hearts, then the kingdom of Satan would reign in our hearts. So it is a question of whether we are allowing the kingdom of God to grow in our hearts or the kingdom of Satan.
The Kingdom therefore means the interior life of the individual. The external aspects of the kingdom would be determined by how man relates and makes use of the world. If man is spiritually wise and sound, he would bring about positive effects on the world, whether in terms of politics, economics, morality or protecting the environment. The external changes in creation are dependent on the interior life of the human person. If the interior life is lacking, then man would destroy creation because of his selfish and shortsighted ways in making use of and developing creation.
But this kingdom is not only inside us already, it is also in our midst, which means the Kingdom is present outside of us. The kingdom is present whenever there is love, justice and peace. Whenever, we see goodness, truth and love, there the kingdom of God is present. This is of course present in a most par excellence manner in the person of Jesus Christ who is the incarnation of the kingdom of God. He is the embodiment of the kingdom of God in His words, deeds, life, passion, death and resurrection. His reaching out to sinners, miracles of healing and exorcisms, compassion for the weak and marginalized are all signs that the kingdom of God is here in our midst.
Indeed, Jesus for us is the Wisdom of God in person. He is that Wisdom described for us in the first reading. Jesus is the kingdom of God because He manifests the presence of God in His life. The first reading says, “She is a breath of the power of God, pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; hence nothing impure can find a way into her. She is a reflection of the eternal light, untarnished mirror of God’s active power, image of his goodness.” St Paul wrote, “However, we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification.” (1 Cor 2:7) “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor 2:22-24)
In Christ, we are all transformed anew if we come to Him for wisdom and direction. “Wisdom is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, active, incisive, unsullied, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, sharp, irresistible, beneficent, loving to man, steadfast, dependable, unperturbed, almighty, all-surveying, penetrating all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits; for Wisdom is quicker to move than any motion; she is so pure, she pervades and permeates all things.” If we desire to grow in holiness and purity and live a life of true wisdom, then we must allow the Word of God to take root in our hearts so that by living out the Word of God, we can live a life of true wisdom and purity. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Finally, Jesus, the Wisdom of God, will make us friends of God when we come to Him. “Although alone, she can do all; herself unchanging, she makes all things new. In each generation, she passes into holy souls, she makes them friends of God and prophets; for God loves only the man who lives with Wisdom.” When we live the life of the gospel, we will be made new by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. Because of Christ’s passion and resurrection, we are united to God in mind and heart. Only in Him, can we overcome all evil in life. “She is indeed more splendid that the sun, she outshines all the constellations; compared with light, she takes first place, for light must yield to night, but over Wisdom evil can never triumph. She deploys her strength from one end of the earth to the other, ordering all things for good.”