When we hear about the Kingdom of God most of us think of a future reality, the eternal life we are invited to share with God when our earthly life is complete. This life of the Kingdom of God is a central fact of our faith. The death that we experience at the end of our earthly life is much more of a birth than it is a death. It is a transition into the life for which we are created.
In the first reading today from the prophet Isaiah we hear “The Lord says, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth,” a life “to be a joy and its people to be a delight”.
But we don’t have to wait until we die to experience this life. Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God “is among you.” It is now, but it is also not yet. It may be as imperceptible as the tiny mustard seed, but life with Jesus is offered to us on this earth. The moment of the beginning of this new life in the new heaven and the new earth is baptism.
Here on earth we are all too aware that we are only beginning to live this life and often are caught up in daily anxieties and earthly preoccupations. But the fact remains that our eternal life, our life with God, has begun.
With the new eyes that are ours when we are in relationship with Jesus we are able to glimpse the beginnings of eternal life and joy, often in the most unlikely moments and situations. With our new ears we hear echoes of hope, even in the most difficult of struggles.
It is tempting to grasp at these moments and to hold them as if they were the full reality. But these graced moments are only signs and if we hold onto them expecting perfection we will soon be disappointed.
The traveller who embraces the signpost because it is labelled with the name of the destination will never reach the destination. The sign is important, but it can do little more than show direction and give a welcome indication that we are on the right road.
In today’s gospel Jesus said to the royal official whose son was near death: “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”