To be agents of the kingdom of God is a full-time occupation. It requires a whole-life commitment; it requires preparation and energy. The passages in these weeks of ordinary time involve Jesus preparing his disciples for their role as shepherds of the new church. They are full of befuddling lessons drawn from enigmatic tales. No sphere of society is beyond Jesus' reach. He uses managers, judges, and military leaders to prompt the disciples to take seriously their charge.
Beneath the particular morals of the stories recurs the theme that a life of discipleship requires nothing less than complete surrender to God. We cannot move freely amid this world if we are burdened by possessions, titles, institutions. To release everything that prevents us from living fully as God's children, we need to return again and again to God's presence. So as Jesus warns us to pay attention to the imminent kingdom, he beseeches us to fall freely into the everlasting arms of God. That is all the equipment required for the journey.
All or Nothing
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
I was recently out for dinner with a friend when it started raining hard. A homeless woman came into the restaurant crying, begging for help. While the restaurant staff quickly ushered her back outside, she continued to plead. Some other guests left the restaurant soon after she exited and helped her somehow. The next time I turned around to look, she was gone.
I am still shaken by my failure to act. I was seated upstairs and far from the door. If I'd been closer, maybe I would have gone to her. My fear of embarrassment and inadequacy in the face of such overwhelming need paralyzed me.