True Glory: Tuesday of Holy Week 2016

‘Glorified’ is a word we rarely use today except in a dismissive or sarcastic sense, e.g. ‘a glorified B and B’ means an inferior hotel, a pretentious establishment with no substance to its claims. It is a word, however, that we shall hear again and again during Holy Week. Today it occurs in both Mass readings. In the passage from Isaiah, (Is 49.1–6), the Lord is quoted as saying ‘You are my servant (Israel) in whom I shall be glorified.’  In the gospel (Jn, 13.21–33, 36–38) as soon as Judas has gone out, Jesus says

Now has the Son of Man been glorified,
and in him God has been glorified.
If God has been glorified in him,
God will in turn glorify him in himself,
and will glorify him very soon.

The compilers of the lectionary wanted us to make the connection between the Servant and the Son, but is there something more, something this word ‘glorification’ and its analogues is meant to convey? What is the true glory here?

Clearly, the obedience of both the Servant and the Son is crucial to our understanding of what is going on. We sometimes forget that it was not Christ’s death as such that redeemed us but his obedience to the Father — which necessarily involved death on the Cross. The vocation of the Servant in Isaiah transcends his own earlier imaginings, his all-too-human conception of success and failure; so too with the Son. At the very moment Judas sets out to betray him, Jesus utters his passionate declaration that he is already glorified, that God is glorified in him. As so often in John, the words read like the choreography of a divine embrace, with Father and Son rapt in love and mutual trust and understanding. For now, we are outside, we cannot follow, we cannot share. Like Peter, we protest our love and devotion, but to no avail. Only when the Son of Man is lifted up will he draw all to himself. Only then will we too be glorified in him and share that divine embrace.

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2 thoughts on “True Glory: Tuesday of Holy Week 2016”

  1. Thank you for reminding us of what an amazing moment this is in the text. It seems to turn the world upside down. When Judas was about to betray him, Jesus makes that wonderful declaration, that he is glorified already. His impending death is glorious, not a defeat, and, as you say, this gives us a glimpse into the centre of that glorious embrace with the Father. I think some of us miss this moment at first, because we are preoccupied with Judas’ betrayal. Although Judas has gone out at this point, he remains in my mind, perhaps because betrayal is one of the worst things we can do in our society: it is most feared because it breaks trust. It turns our world upside down. I suppose deep down we suspect we all have the “Judas chromosome”: we fear that at some point we will betray Jesus, and we probably will. We can only pray that we will receive the grace to seek forgiveness as Peter did, and, like him, run to find the glory of the Risen Christ.

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