As I watched an older couple walk past I noticed that they were holding hands. The gesture reminded me of a commercial I had seen years ago. It featured a middle aged couple walking in the park side by side, a sizable space was between them and they were not speaking to one another. As they passed an old couple holding hands, the young woman looked back at the old couple and smiled. As she did she leaned into her husband and her hand reached out to grasp his hand. The ad in addition to promoting a product was a reminder that love needs to be manifested; love requires action and being present to the one you love.
In today’s gospel, Jesus after healing all who came to him reminds the disciples of something they will grow to understand. His coming was an expression of God’s love. John 3:16 describes how that love was manifested in Jesus – “for God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Jesus clearly tells us he came for more than healing the sick. He took extra care to show his purpose for coming went way beyond a display of God’s power at work among us. He said “…I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, for this purpose I have been sent” (Lk 4:43).
We do know and understand that Jesus died for our sins and to reconcile us to the Father. We do know and understand the concept of salvation being gained by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We do know and understand that Jesus worked miracles and those miracles changed hearts and lives. But his purpose for coming was more than just salvation. His purpose was to fulfill the plan of God that we who were made in his image would live in his presence daily – in the kingdom of God not in the kingdom of the world. We need to pay attention and grasp what that means for us.
Opening his ministry Jesus says boldly “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1:14). With the coming of Jesus, God’s power was breaking into the world and into our lives. Jesus made it possible for us to take our rightful place in the kingdom of God as sons and daughters. At the beginning of his ministry, the Kingdom of God was ushered into the world. He said It was the purpose for which he was sent and that should cause us to look at the world with enlightened eyes.
In our first reading, Job describes life as drudgery, a misery, one where he will not see happiness again. That is a world we can relate to because that is the world many of us experience. But God tells us, “…in the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (Jn: 16:33). If we look beyond the miracle stories we will find the true miracle of Jesus coming. It is that we are transformed by the power of God at work within us. We are able to feel the presence of God in our lives. We can be at peace even when everything happening in our lives is conspiring to rob us of our peace and joy.
Job was afflicted and even as he expresses life as he was experiencing it, Job continued to trust in God. This is the real message of kingdom living. It does not matter what is afflicting us; we know we can trust in the promises of God. God tells us he will never abandon us nor forsake us. Even in the darkest time of our lives God promises he will give us strength and be with us. Living as disciples in the kingdom where faith guides us. It requires a belief in Jesus’ invitation to follow him.
We must have faith in God, faith in Jesus and faith in the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. In the kingdom we learn to live not by doing things to earn salvation but by surrendering to the power of God at work in us. Surrender is a concept that God has consistently spoken to us. Through the prophet Jeremiah (2:11-13) God told us, “…my people have changed their glory for useless things….they have forsaken me the source of living water to dig cisterns for themselves.” We continue to live our Christian life by doing useless things that may make us feel good about ourselves. Things that we believe will ‘earn’ our righteousness instead of relying on the source of salvation – Jesus. Jesus said “out of me will flow living water” yet we continue to drink from our own cisterns of pious living. If we can embrace Jesus and the reason he came we can reclaim our glory.
Christ came so that life would not be a drudgery but one lived in the presence of God and in the power of God. He offers us a life full of wonder and awe at the things we will witness God doing in his kingdom each and every day – the signs, the wonders and the miracles.