The Pharisees asked Jesus a lot of questions and he had some stunning answers to some of them. Today’s gospel text is a good example. “When will the Kingdom of God come?” was the question. (LK 17:20) No one could have expected the comeback: “The Kingdom of God cannot be observed and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is’ or ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.”
The two words that interested me as clues about this answer were behold and among. In addition to seeing, the verb behold has intimations of watching and witnessing. It’s used most often as an imperative, a command, especially to call attention to something. The preposition among means in the company of, amid, in the middle of, surrounded by, in or through the middle of. (You get the idea.) So it seems that with these two words, Jesus is trying to say that unless we pay attention to what’s already going on around us, we may miss the manifestation of the Kingdom of God.
Today, Catholics (especially Italian – and other – Americans) are celebrating the feast of Frances Xavier Cabrini, an Italian immigrant who became a US citizen in 1909 and was declared, therefore, the first American saint in 1946. Mother Cabrini was definitely all about beholding the Kingdom of God. Since her early childhood in Italy she wanted to be a missionary to China (even though she had a great fear of drowning that never left her!) but Pope Leo XIII urged her to go west instead of east, landing her and six of her Sisters in New York City to work with Italian immigrants. In 35 years she founded 67 institutions dedicated to serving the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. She worked among the people and was a clear manifestation of the Kingdom of God to the People of God who needed hope to sustain their faith in new and daunting surroundings.
So today, everywhere I go, I hope to pay attention to beholding the Kingdom of God because I do believe it is truly among us, surrounding me at every step.