Nov 16 2023 Reflection
Thursday 16 November 2023
First Reading: Wis 7:22b–8:1
Your word is for ever, O Lord.
Ps 119:89, 90, 91, 130, 135, 175
Gospel Reading: Lk 17:20-25
Today’s Note: Thursday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come,
Jesus said in reply,
“The coming of 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.”
Then he said to his disciples,
“The days will come when you will long to see
one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.
There will be those who will say to you,
‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’
Do not go off, do not run in pursuit.
For just as lightning flashes
and lights up the sky from one side to the other,
so will the Son of Man be in his day.
But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.”
What can lightning tell us about the coming of the Lord and his kingdom? The Jews in Jesus’ time were watching in great anticipation for some sign which would indicate when the Messiah would appear to establish the kingdom of God. The Pharisees’ question on this matter was intended to test Jesus since they did not accept him as the Messiah. Jesus surprised them with the answer that the kingdom or reign of God was already here! Jesus spoke of the coming of God’s kingdom as both a present event and an event which would be manifested at the end of time.
The Day of Judgment and God’s final verdict
The “Day of the Lord” was understood in the Old Testament as the time when God would manifest his glory and power and overthrow the enemies of his people, Israel. The prophet Amos declared that the “Day” also meant judgment for Israel as well as the nations (Amos 5:18-20). The prophet Joel proclaimed that at this “Day” those who truly repented would be saved, while those who remained enemies of the Lord, whether Jew or Gentile, would be punished (see Joel 2).
Image of lightning and the sudden appearance of Christ on Judgment Day
Why did Jesus associate lightning with the “Day of the Lord”? In the arid climate of Palestine, storms were infrequent and seasonal. They often appeared suddenly or unexpectedly, seemingly out of nowhere, covering everything in thick darkness. With little or no warning lightning filled the sky with its piercing flashes of flaming light. Its power struck terror and awe in those who tried to flee from its presence. Jesus warned the Pharisees that the “Son of man” (a title for the Messiah given in the Book of Daniel 7:13-15) would come in like manner, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, on the clouds of heaven to bring God’s judgment on the “Day of the Lord”. No special sign will be needed to announce his appearance. Nor will his presence and power be veiled or hidden, but all will recognize him as clearly as the lightning in the sky.
Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead
Jesus identified himself with the “Day of the Lord”. “Son of man” was understood as a Messianic title for the one who would come not only to establish God’s kingdom but who would come as Judge of the living as well as the dead. Jesus points to his second coming when he will return to complete the work of restoration and final judgment. While we do not know the time of his return, we will not mistake it when it happens. It will be apparent to all, both believers and non-believers as well.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus what sign would indicate the “Day of the Lord”, Jesus replied that only one sign would point to that day and that sign was Jesus himself. Jesus surprised the Jews of his time by announcing that God’s kingdom was already present among them in his very person – the Son of God sent from the Father to redeem the world from sin and corruption.
Our hope is anchored in God’s kingdom – not the passing kingdoms of this present world
In the Lord Jesus we see both the power and the glory of God’s kingdom. His divine power overthrew the powers of darkness (the kingdom of Satan and all who opposed God’s rule) and sin (which corrupts and enslaves the human mind, heart, and will to the forces of evil and wrongdoing). Jesus knew that the only way to victory was through the cross. On that cross he defeated death and canceled the debt of our sins. The victory of his cross opens the way for us to live as sons and daughters of God and citizens of his heavenly kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness (moral goodness). Is your hope and future securely anchored to God’s heavenly kingdom?
Lord Jesus Christ, may your kingdom come and may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Be the Ruler of my heart and the Master of my life that I may always live in the freedom of your love and truth.