Full of Glory

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

May 15th, 2022 – Fifth Sunday of Easter - John 13:31-35

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Today’s gospel reading is perhaps the shortest of the year. Only a handful of verses. Yet it contains the only commandment that comes directly from Jesus himself. It states that we are to love one another as he has loved us. He is our model for deep and lasting love. We may not ever achieve the depth and degree of his love, but it remains our goal.

Here, however, I want to comment on another part of this gospel, the part that mentions “the glory of God.” Especially in the way Jesus showed forth God’s glory.

A few years back I researched how the Bible understands this phrase, “the glory of God.” For most of my life I have heard these words. They are often included in common prayers, and they are sung in countless hymns. They are often mentioned in Sacred Scripture. But what is the meaning of “God’s glory?”

Here's what I learned.

When God created the universe, God’s glory was embedded in it. God’s glory (something of God’s own self) was instilled or baked into all that God created. While hidden there, we are invited to search for it, to seek something of God therein. While it is not obvious, it is not absent. However, we must look deeply (very deeply) to find it.

St. Ignatius Loyola called this exploration “our search for God in all things.” What makes this search challenging is that God is not one part among other parts. Rather, God is in the whole of everything as its creator, and as the one who sustains the existence of all that is.

Here are some ways to think about this in nature. God’s glory is present in the rays of the sun as they warm our Earth. God’s glory is there in the force of gravity that holds everything together. God’s glory moves within the growth and flowering of spring wildflowers. God’s glory creates in us new thoughts and ideas each day. And most of all, God’s glory shines within every act of love for others that we make.

Finally, one of the earliest theologians of the church, Irenaeus of Lyon, wrote that “the glory of God is a human being fully alive.” Such insight. Such wisdom. Within each of us is the capacity to show forth some of God’s glory in every thought, word and deed we co-create with God. And we do this most fully when we love each other, as Jesus loves us.  

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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