Seventh Sunday Of Easter (May 28, 2017)
Has this been a glorious spring? We seemed to go from winter to summer the last few years. The bright yellow of the forsythia this year was glorious. The vivid colors of the azaleas and wisterias as they bloom in their full glory are . . . glorious.
Glory is a curious word.
Five times in the Gospel and three times in the second reading we hear a form of the word “glory”:
glory given to God,
glory received by Jesus,
glory passed on,
glory of suffering for faithfulness to God.
That word “glory” always puzzled me until I found a biblical scholar who made sense of it. “Glory” as used in John’s Gospel is “the manifestation of God’s majesty.”
Jesus is the perfect revealer of God’s glory:
his healing, a manifestation of god’s majestic power
his preaching, a manifestation of god’s majestic wisdom
his forgiveness, a manifestation of god’s majestic
his teaching, a manifestation of god’s majestic truth
his compassion, a manifestation of god’s majestic love and graciousness
Jesus’ obedience -listening - to the father was the critical mass. Listening has consequences, the consequences of his telling the truth about the father and the state of religious practice led inexorably to his passion and death.
Those who were here on Good Friday may remember the homily about the last supper being the turning point in Jesus’ life. The time of action in his life when he got up from the table and went to the garden of gethsemane. In the garden the passive voice began to be operative. Jesus was arrested, was bound, was tried, was found guilty, was stripped, was flogged, was made to carry his cross, and was crucified. All passive voice.
Action ceased and passiveness began: passion in this context of “passion and death” is the flip side of action. Jesus had completed his actions of preaching, teaching and healing.
Now we recall the words of today’s Gospel when he prayed to his father:
“Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son that your son may give glory to you. I have given you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. Father, give me glory at your side.”
At Jesus’ “hour of glory” passersby’s scoffed at him and jeered. There was nothing outwardly glorious in him as he hung on the cross. Yet it was precisely in this “hour” that God’s glory was most present, even if unrecognized. Jesus manifested the Father’s majesty as much in his passivity as in his activity.
We glorify our father both by doing the work God sends us - action- and working through those things that “happen” to us - passion. We hear Jesus continue in his last supper discourse: “I have given them the glory you gave me that they may be one, as we are one - I living in them, you living in me - that their unity may be complete.”
We glorify God and are glorified by God in being united to him.
Spring flowers manifest God’s majesty in their visible, glorious beauty. We manifest God’s majesty in the not always visible-to-us beauty of our lives. Our glory will follow as day follows night.