St. John, in his gospel, turns the word glory on its head. As we move into the end of Lent and into Holy Week I believe that it would be good to reflect on this other dimension of Glory.
The final section of the fourth Gospel is called the Book of Glory. It begins with the washing of the feet of the apostles and continues through the account of Jesus' passion and death. We don't see a lot of the more common revelation of God's glory, rather we see that when God humbles God self in Jesus to enter into the basest and most sinful parts of the human condition it is then that God is glorified. We see this, as I said, in the washing of the feet, an event which Pope Benedict XVI called the Sacramentum of the Passion because it symbolizes the depths of love that we see in Jesus as He freely gives Himself over to death in the most cruel fashion. God is glorified in John not with mighty deeds of splendid power, but rather when Jesus delves into sin and evil and destroys it not with wrath and punishment, but with mercy and forgiveness.
After the prologue at the beginning of this Gospel comes the Book of Signs. They are called signs and not miracles because they point to various aspects of the ministry of Jesus and to the lessons that we are to learn from them. Water is turned into wine not only showing compassion for the wedding party, but showing that in Jesus something new is being revealed. After this a Samaritan woman is set free from her sins, a blind man is cured, bread is multiplied for a hungry crowd, an adulterous woman is forgiven and finally Lazarus is called forth. All of these events have in common the manifestation of God's glory in Jesus who enters into the depths of sin, sickness hunger and death to wipe them away and offer people new life.
This Sunday, as I continue my time in Little Rock and preach the mission in English I will be preaching on Lazarus for the Mass for the RCIA catechumens, and on the adulterous women at the other Mass. In both cases the glory of God is shown not from on high, but rather with the humble love of Jesus who stands with the sinner and who weeps for his friend before forgiving one and giving new life to the other.
After calling Lazarus forth Jesus tells those gathered there to "untie him and set him free." It seems to me that he is calling us to open ourselves to Him to be forgiven, healed and restored to life. The Church then becomes the field hospital that Pope Francis desires it to be, untying each other and setting one another free.
|The Other Face of Glory|