‘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.