"This raises the question, 'Is God just as present in absence as in presence?' Or to put it another way, 'Is the divine intervention always there supporting us whether we think it is present or not?'

"The answer of the parables is emphatically yes. The kingdom of God is active in failure, ordinariness, everydayness. If we wait for a miraculous rescue, a vindictive triumph or some idealized lifestyle to appear, we are looking for the wrong kingdom, certainly not the one that Jesus is revealing.

"There is no place to go to the find the kingdom because it is always close at hand. We do not need to look for success because the kingdom is equally present in failure. What is disconcerting for the hearers of the parables is that the kingdom is not only present and active in failure and in ordinariness, but it is at work in the unclean, in the prostitutes and tax collectors to whom Jesus extends table fellowship.

"According to Jesus, God is in total solidarity with ordinary daily life with its poignant failures in the spiritual journey as well as in everything else. Thus God's mercy invites us to show compassion and solidarity with all the other sinners in the world, including public sinners and street people, who in the parable of the great dinner, are the only ones who finally got in (Luke 14:16-24).

"The kingdom is present not in grandiose accomplishments, but in showing practical love in humble ways, day after day, and in refusing to allow our failures and disappointments to hide God's love from us. God invites us to share the divine emptiness. The divine emptiness might also be described as total vulnerability: the willingness to be hurt over and over again without loving less but more. That means never giving up on anyone, not even ourselves. Of such is the kingdom of God.”

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