St Therese of the Child Jesus: “The Doctor of doctors teaches us without the sound of words. I have never heard him speak, and yet I know he is within my soul. Every moment he is guiding and inspiring me, and, just at the moment I need them, ‘lights’ till then unseen are granted me. Most often it is not at prayer that they come but while I go about my daily duties”1
A Christian does not grow as a Christian if their faith is gradually replaced by a new kind of worldliness. There is a temptation – under the guise of liturgy, or spirituality, or evangelization – to return to the world from which we were saved. We can see this clearly in the question of the Pharisees about the coming of the Kingdom of God. The Pharisees are not preparing themselves to leave this world and go to God, but rather to harness divine authority and ensconce themselves in positions of worldly power and influence. They would like a kingdom of God because God is invisible and therefore absent. If God is absent from His own kingdom, that means the Pharisees could be in charge since God isn’t going to make a bunch of “important temporal decisions” anyway. The distance between the terms is almost negligible: “ruling in God’s place,” “ruling in place of God,” “there is no God,” and “I am a god.”
What is invisible and hidden about the Love and Truth of God cannot ever lose its appeal. We cannot ever allow boredom with spiritual things to justify returning to worldliness. Acedia is not principally a psychological condition, it is essentially a spiritual sickness: it is sin. The remedy is not waiting until we feel the motivation or the spark, but performing the interior act of love and devotion which places us back in the presence of our true King. The Kingdom of God is already here among you – He is within you.
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA:
He says, “Do not ask about the times in which the season of the kingdom of heaven will again arise and come. Rather, be eager that you may be found worthy of it. It is within you. That is, it depends on your own wills and is in your own power, whether or not you receive it. Everyone that has attained to justification by means of faith in Christ and decorated by every virtue is counted worthy of the kingdom of heaven.”2
ISAAC OF NINEVEH:
“The kingdom of the heavens is within you.” You should not hope to find it in a place. It does not come in observation, according to the word of Christ.3
The only thing that can be “within us” is knowledge or ignorance of the truth and the affection for righteousness or sin by which we prepare our hearts to be a kingdom of Christ or the devil. St. Paul described the nature of this kingdom in this way: “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” If the kingdom of God is within us and is righteousness, peace and joy, then someone that remains in these is surely within the kingdom of God. Someone that remains in unrighteousness, conflict and the melancholy that kills the life of the spirit is already a citizen of the devil’s kingdom, of hell and of death. These are the signs whether it is God’s kingdom or the devil’s.4
Asked by the disciples when the kingdom of God would come,6 the Lord said, “The kingdom of God is within you,” through the truth of grace and not through the slavery of guilt. Let those that would be free be servants in the Lord. As we share in service, we also share in the kingdom. He said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” He would not say when it would come.5
- (The Autobiography of a Saint, chap. 8). Saint Luke’s Gospel. (2005). (p. 150). Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers.
- COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 117. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (pp. 270–271). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- ASCETICAL HOMILIES 53. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 271). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- CONFERENCE 1.13. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 271). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 8.33. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 271). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.