"There is no place to go to 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." Keating isn't applauding failure and denigrating success and the aspiration to achieve success; he's recognizing that success can be elusive and ephemeral. I'm reminded of the late Will Campbell's dictum: "We're all bastards, but God loves us anyway."
This is illustrated in Keating's treatment of the parable of the workmen in the vineyard (sometimes called by the late Andrew Greeley and others The Parable of the Crazy Farmer). "At the eleventh hour [the vineyard owner] went out again and found a few idlers who had been hanging around all day... So they stumbled into the vineyard, picked a grape or two, and then it was time to quit... This parable raises questions about the standard of justice in the kingdom of God. Shouldn't those who worked more hours have been given more? Evidently, entry into the kingdom is not a question of merit." Keating goes on to say: "Respectable folks in general do not like this parable... The bottom line of this teaching is that the kingdom is not based on human standards of justice and equity, but on the infinite mercy of God... respond[ing] to the desperate state of the human condition."
Equally striking is Keating's treatment of the parable of the lost coin. "Jesus again juxtaposes the grandiose expectations in the popular mind regarding how the kingdom is expected to appear in our lives, and how it actually appears. The woman finally finds the coin of modest value... She did not win the state lottery. Jesus undermines grandiose expectations of all kinds. For one reason: they are not likley to happen... The kingdom of God is active in failure, ordinariness, everydayness... 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."
Twenty parables are approached in this book from a contemplative perspective, as well as three Advent scripture passages. Readers will come away both challenged and enriched.