A few week’s ago, night-time storms visited us, though with far less vengeance than our local meteorologists’ predicted. I was pleased to wake to the cloudy, but calmer daytime which suggested only that we take along our umbrellas for any outdoor treks. That morning, I drove downtown for a meeting at our diocese offices. I assist people with annulment cases and it was time for a refresher course regarding the process and paperwork. After insuring that I had both my umbrella and notebook in tow, I backed out of the garage and headed for the tollway. The good news is that traffic was relatively light considering my destination. The better news is that I had a free parking spot for the morning in the Holy Name Cathedral lot as a result of my involvement in this meeting. The not-so-good news is that the rain came in full force about fifteen minutes before I reached that parking lot. This downpour continued during my ten-minute walk to the meeting.
Oddly, the stormy gloom surrounding me didn’t discourage me as I dodged puddles along the way. It was only when I realized that my umbrella was becoming soaked and I would soon be the same that I began to worry a bit. Fortunately, I reached my destination before this occurred. As I entered, I turned my eyes upward and thanked our dear Lord for my safe trip. I was grateful to be in bright and familiar territory. I couldn’t help smiling at the security guard who staffed the welcome desk. After signing in, I followed his directions to the conference room and settled in for what I hoped would be a productive morning.
Though our chairs faced a bank of windows which revealed the determined gray outdoors, it was the light within the room which drew my attention. The fixtures above certainly illuminated the space well. However, it was the light of those present which countered the dismal weather. Each of us Field Delegates was welcomed with a warm smile and a word of gratitude for our volunteer efforts. In many cases, we are the only representatives of the diocese whom those involved with annulments actually meet in person, so the staff downtown is most grateful for our work. When I took on this ministry, I hoped to light the way and lighten the burdens of the divorced people involved. The Marriage Tribunal staff do what they do to light the way to new beginnings for all concerned as well. So it was that, in spite of the storm, I enjoyed an extremely bright morning.
In Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 13:44-52), Jesus teaches through parables once again. Jesus tells the crowds, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it…” On that rainy, but light-filled morning when I ventured downtown, Jesus might have added, “The kingdom of heaven is a like a dark night which seems never to end. Then, the sun slowly rises and announces a new day. Those who bask in its light dance with delight.” The rain around us couldn’t diminish our efforts to light the way for one another so that we could in turn light the way for those who need our assistance. It seems to me that those who have experienced even the smallest ray of light from the kingdom of heaven cannot help desiring more of that light for themselves and for those they have been given to love. Just as Jesus used his every word and action to shed light upon God’s love, understanding, forgiveness and mercy for those around him, he inspired his disciples and all who would listen to do the same.
So it is that the kingdom of heaven isn’t only the place where we hope to encounter eternal light and life one day. The kingdom of heaven is the light deep within each of us which reveals that there is far more to our existence than the material treasures of this life. This light shines from within us in the creative and amazing ways in which we love one another. Whether we guide someone through the aftermath of a failed marriage, visit a lonely neighbor or listen to a troubled teen, we share God’s kingdom. Whether we exhibit patience toward our children in spite of our fatigue or sacrifice a few of our own luxuries to assist the needy, we share God’s kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is the light of community which is revealed in the kindness that abounds among neighbors and spills over onto strangers. The kingdom of heaven is precious light restored in the lives of those who suffer in whatever the darkness which plagues them. The kingdom of heaven is each of ours to share whenever and wherever we can.
©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved