By José Santana
Life is a continuum of the “already now” and the “what is next.” This continuum drives the way we live cycling through the present being replaced by what was once the future. In this manner, it is difficult to differentiate between the two because often while we are in the present experience we are constantly focusing our sights on the next (or for some others on the past). I find that in my own life I am constantly in search of what I do not have at a given moment—food, fancier clothing, a better house, a new car, a job, raise, or promotion, a degree, business opportunities, better health, guidance, peace, love, mercy, comfort, wealth, and much more—and I expect this will continue until the day I take my last breath.
In life there is always something to look forward to, the danger is if it overshadows the process it takes to get there.
In today’s gospel reading (Luke 17:20-25), the Pharisees are looking forward to the kingdom of God. Surprising them with his answer, Jesus replies, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is among you.”
One of the things that keeps me sane in times of stress is the recognition that there is more to life, that the ultimate destination is not here and now, but what is to come.
The perspective that this puts on life is comforting for me; it puts my soul at peace.
However, while hoping in the future life promised to us is a virtue of the Christian life, it must not detract from the reality that we are already partaking in that new life currently.
As someone whose mind tends to be in the future, I spend much time mentally planning how I am going to get to the places in life I desire to be. One such way in which this plays out is in regards to my career goals. I grew up with a passion for sports, a passion that has led to aspirations to work in the sports industry. While in college I was adamant about making this dream a reality, and focused solely on what it would take to achieve this.
In the process, I at times became insular.
I did not recognize the advantage of stretching myself by getting involved in other areas of university life, striving to achieve more, and in nurturing my soul spiritually. I became complacent in all things I did because ultimately my destiny was to be elsewhere than that moment in my life; as soon as I got my diploma I could move on to what I really wanted to do. In the process, I was completely missing all of the beautiful things that were right before me, most especially God. In the same way the Pharisees missed the presence of the kingdom of God because of their desire to know the signs that would precede it, I often fail to see the presence of God in each moment of life because I am seeking signs for what to do next.
When I graduated from college I began to work towards becoming a sports agent, but I also began to see, through the help of others, where God was also leading me. This direction was in the co-laboring work of ministry.
I try to partake in that life currently by living incarnationally.
Before Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to forgive our sins and give us new life, he became human to show us what being fully human looks like. This forces me to think outside of myself, and my personal worries become overshadowed by the present reality of the needs of all people.
As Jesus teaches in the gospel, the kingdom of God is already among us. The times when I get caught up in looking towards the future often prevent me from being fully alive in the present. Therefore, let “the kingdom of God is among you” be the battle-cry that inspires us all to be fully alive now—joyous, positive, self-sacrificial, loving, Jesus-centered people.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
José Santana is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, currently pursuing a Master's in Theological Studies at the University of Dayton. After working for several years in marketing and sports, his passion for theology and ministry brought him back to school to study and work as a Graduate Assistant in Campus Ministry. He most enjoys watching sports, playing basketball, traveling, and enjoying good food in the company of friends.