Thursday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” is the classic mantra of kids on a car trip. They need patience, a virtue particularly difficult for many of us to acquire. Today the Pharisees are pressing Jesus on when the Kingdom of God will appear in its fullness. Jesus tells them of its mysterious presence already, but not yet. On the one hand, he informs them that the Kingdom’s arrival “cannot be observed.” On the other hand, he instructs them to “behold” that it is “among you.” Finally, Jesus explains to his followers that they will need discernment and patience as they await the coming of the Son of Man, who will come in glory only after a terrible agony of being discarded by the larger culture. Jesus warns us about latching onto counterfeit Messiahs in the period of waiting for the real one to return.
One of the great dangers in the spiritual life is to have an all-or-nothing, it-must-be-now mentality. We let what we think is the “best” to become the enemy of the good. If our lives of prayer and virtue are not what we think they should be, for example, we get fed up and sometimes quit. We forget that there is a necessary process of growth whereby we must pass through pain and purification—an inner emptiness that allows God’s grace to fill us. I recently heard in a homily to “pray as you can, not as you think you should.” When we do so, the Kingdom is among us as we patiently await the fullness of the coming of our Lord, when forever we will feel “your countenance shine upon your servant.”