“The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
For those who wanted to know when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus simply answered: “It is already in your midst.” What is this kingdom of God that is already in our midst? Remember this song:
The time to be happy is now!
The place to be happy is here!
The way to be happy is to make Someone Happy!
And we’ll have a little heaven down here!
The essence of being in heaven is happiness. We experience heaven each time we are able to smile with joy from the depths of our hearts. We experience heaven each time we make someone happy. We experience heaven each time we forgive sincerely from our hearts.
Our first reading captures the essence of Paul’s letter to Philemon. Onesimus is a slave who ran away from Philemon his master for probably doing something wrong but ended up in prison where he met St. Paul. Writing to Philemon Paul pleads for forgiveness over Onesimus in these words:
“Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful both to you and to me… welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.” (Philemon 1:11-18).
This is heaven – loving our neighbours as ourselves. This is God’s kingdom – forgiving one another as many as seventy times seven without counting the cost. This is God’s kingdom – seeing the face of Jesus in the people who have offended you like Onesimus.
This is God’s kingdom – putting smiles on people’s faces regardless of how we feel inside. This is heaven – welcoming the earth’s rejected, the sick, the imprisoned, the orphans, giving to these little ones as much as a cup of water without expecting anything in return.
There is no point panicking and running after false prophets. The end of the world will not come in observable signs. Jesus said it will be like a flash of light. For now, let us focus on heaven that is already in our midst. Let us work towards making the world a better place for everyone we meet.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, use me to bring heaven to this world by forgiving and bringing joy to all I meet. Amen.
Bible Study: Philemon 1:7-20, Psalm 146:6-10 and Luke 17:20-25).