In last Sunday’s gospel we heard an image of what the kingdom of God looks like; Jesus, in speaking to the crowd, says “And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 13:29). It’s an expansive view of the kingdom. It’s probably surprising to the crowd gathered around him. The gathered crowd must have wondered, who, after all, lives in the north or the south or the east or the west? Strange peoples indeed – foreigners, unknowns, people who speak different languages; and yet, Jesus says, these people also are held within God’s mercy and grace. On our parish’s recent visit to El Salvador, we were invited by a local Salvadoran parish to join them for a Thursday night dinner. We arrived and found a long table set up with plates, silverware, glasses; we were served Salvadoran food and drinks; we sat among each other at table and, haltingly, due to the language difference, shared stories of life in the United States, and life in El Salvador, of what it’s like to live in the North, what it’s like to live in the South. We heard stories of people who knew people who went North to cross a border. We refilled glasses, shared plates with one another. We listened.
It was an image of last Sunday’s gospel, an image of what the kingdom looks like – beyond the harsh language that so often rules the day in our nation, it was a picture of a kind of holy communion among peoples from the north and the south, reclining at table. This is what Jesus means when he speaks of the kingdom. It’s not some ethereal place in the sky or in the clouds, it’s not some distant dream that lies only in the future. The kingdom is both here and not here, the kingdom both awaits us and is here now, and our gospel call is to keep our eyes open for signs of that kingdom right here in front of us, a foretaste of the kingdom to come, whether that’s in our kitchens and living rooms, on 540 headed east, or at a lovingly prepared table at a welcoming parish in San Salvador.
Happy Labor Day to all, and Blessings on your week!