The faith of many religious people is strengthened in the realization that their life is a journey toward the Kingdom of God. A journey can include many stops and byways that teach us things along the way. At least one of those byways might include a pilgrimage to a holy shrine. For Muslims it could be Mecca, for Jews it might be Jerusalem and for Catholics it might be Rome, Fatima, or Lourdes. The goal is to find God at the end of our pilgrimage—or at least at the end of our life’s journey.
The problem is that while on a pilgrimage the pilgrims can be so focused on getting to their destination that they fail to see God along the way. That’s true of life’s journey, as well. Today’s readings remind us where to look. Starting with our first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses tells his people where to find the word of God: “It is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in our hearts.” In the second reading, Paul tells the Colossians where to find Jesus—”the invisible God.” He’s everywhere you look! “For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,” Paul writes.
And finally, the Gospel of Luke has Jesus teaching a scholar of the law where to find God—in a Samaritan! Being called a Samaritan was an insult to the Jews in those days. In fact in the Gospel of John the Jews called Christ a Samaritan: “Then the Jews answered and said unto Him, ‘Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil?’ Jesus answered, ‘I have not a devil, but I honor My Father, and ye do dishonor Me.’” So it’s a bit jarring to read Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan in today’s Gospel. He’s the one who tends to the poor beaten victim of a street crime after that victim was ignored by a priest and a Levite.
So that scholar’s question to Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”, is answered in the Good Samaritan story, and our life journey question, “Where is God?”, is answered in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats in Matthew, when God welcomes the righteous into heaven as a reward for feeding Him when He was hungry. “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you?” the righteous shall ask God, and God will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
So if you’re aching to get to the Kingdom of God, stop looking beyond the blue horizon for a “Welcome” sign. That sign can only be found within you.