The Glory of God
Jesus speaks a lot about glory in the Gospel for this weekend: he asks the Father to glorify him so that he might glorify the Father and then he says that he is glorified in the disciples he is leaving behind.
One of the versions of the dismissal at the end of Mass that was introduced with the current Missal in 2011 has become my favourite: Let us go in peace, glorifying the Lord with our lives. Although the word ‘glorify’ doesn’t have very positive overtones in our culture, seeming to smack of making things out to be better than they are or bolstering one’s own ego, its cousins ‘glory’ and ‘glorious’ are words that lift our spirits. All of them remind me that St Irenaeus, a second century Greek priest who became the Bishop of Lyons and was one of the great early thinkers and writers in the Church, said ‘The glory of God is a human person fully alive’.
The restrictions of the continuing pandemic crisis have given us all opportunities, whether we’ve taken them or not, to reflect on what it means to be a human person fully alive. Some of us might have thought that it involved some combination of having busy jobs, being able to travel freely and meet whoever, whenever and wherever we want, gathering with others for sport, music, dancing, drinking, praying and praising, and a host of other things we haven’t been able to do for weeks. Some have found that slowing down, being more in touch with nature, caring for others, finding new ways to entertain each other and just being kind to each other, have made them feel more alive.
This Sunday, falling between the Ascension and Pentecost, is a waiting time. The disciples, men and women, including Jesus’ mother Mary, have gone into lockdown, torn between fear that bad things may happen to them now that Jesus has gone and hope that his promise of the Spirit will come true. Next week we will celebrate the fact that their fear was relieved and the promise fulfilled, but for now we wait with them in both fear and hope.
The theme for this Mental Health Awareness Week reminds us that, when we are suffering, anxious or afraid, what matters most is kindness. We are most gloriously alive when we are most like our creator, pouring out our love in acts of kindness. Fr Chris
The Glory of God