Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

The kingdom of God is in our midst

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

We often hear news reports about bad behavior on airplanes, about people who become unruly and irritable, making demands on the cabin crew and inconveniencing the rest of the passengers by delaying the flight or just making the trip unpleasant. I had a much different experience on a recent flight.

It was fully booked and crowded with parents and their children. A mother was doing her best traveling with two small children while carrying a baby in her arms. People were solicitous of her during the flight, and when we landed, many offered to help retrieve her luggage from the overhead compartment. One even held the mother’s infant as she unbuckled her other two children to leave the plane.

People were tired, the flight was delayed, the space was cramped, but people stayed calm, relaxed and generous. There was none of that misbehavior that makes the news.

Between now and the Feast of Christ the King on Nov. 20, we will hear about some of the people Jesus encounters who help us understand what it means to believe that “the kingdom of God is in our midst.” As Jesus meets various people, he calls them and us as we hear their stories to discover what God is doing within their midst, within the limited circumstances and imperfect relationships of human life.

These are ordinary people familiar to us: the forgiving father, Zaccheus, Mary and Martha, the Good Samaritan, all of whom reveal how God is acting in the world through them and in the present. It’s the kind of thing I saw on the airplane. Ordinary people who were doing their best in the moment, thereby revealing the way God acts with tenderness and mercy toward all his children.

Too often the impression has been given in the church that God’s work is revealed solely in the ministry of the ordained or those in religious orders. That is not what Jesus will teach us over these remaining weeks in the church year.

Just as he invited people in the Gospel to believe that the kingdom of God was in their midst, he will offer the same invitation to us: to the student in summer school preparing for exams, the graduate starting a new job, a parent working to earn a living for the family, the sick who are homebound, the person who lost a loved one and is trying to make sense of life, the politician torn in making the right moral decision. And yes, the passengers on an airplane who shun the temptation to think about themselves, but instead find enjoyment in assisting a mother caring for her children, grateful that, while not arriving on time, they all arrived together safely.

Pay attention over these weeks to the promptings of Christ to let the kingdom of God break forth in the world as we respond to the challenges in the ordinary circumstances of our lives, in the imperfect relationships, in the daily demands and limited situations we face each day.

And don’t forget to keep an eye out for those very special acts of charity and endearing kindness in our daily lives that remind us the kingdom of God is in our midst.