The liturgy of today focuses on the glory of God. God is glorious and so whatever that communicates the character or magnificence of God, invariably makes presence the glory of God. Looking at the readings of today, we see that the glory of God can be understood and associated with from two perspectives. One, the glory of God refers to the manifestation of the divine presence and power in this world. In any form we express and experience God in this world, His glory is made manifest. Two, the glory of God refers to the beatific vision that we shall come to behold after our sojourn in this world. This second perspective is not different from the first only that it is its perfect and complete state. In the priestly prayer offered by Jesus in the gospel reading, he prayed thus: “I glorified you (God) on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do; and now, Father, glorify me in your own presence…” In the above words, Jesus captured the two perspectives of the glory of God – man glorifying God and God glorifying man. By making the Father known in this world, Jesus made present the glory of God. As men came to known the Father through Him, they also came to behold the glory of God. To glorify someone means to give credit to that person. So, in this world, Jesus glorified God. We too have been made capable and given the obligation to glorify God by making him known to others.
To glorify God, we need to experience Him and then truly speak about Him. In the first reading, the followers of Jesus began the process of glorifying God immediately after His ascension by committing themselves to prayer. If their witnessing will be authentic, then they must first spend quality time understanding the one whom they will speak about. Know this, a prayerless Christian does not and cannot glorify God because God has not been glorified in him/her. In the second reading, St. Peter brings us to the second stage of glorifying God – witnessing. Not until when He hung on the cross, no one could clearly say that Jesus was God. It means that the glory of God was made manifest more than ever in the passion and death of Jesus Christ. In suffering, Jesus glorified God more than he did in teaching and performing miracles. Consequently, St. Paul admonishes us to rejoice when we share in the sufferings of Christ. One who suffers thus, is clearly bequeathed with the glory of God, provided he/she is not suffering for an offence committed. When we glorify God, God in turn, glorifies us. This brings us to the second understanding of the glory of God. God glorifies us when He manifests His presence to us. We experience this glory not only when our prayers are answered or when miracles happen to us but especially when we come to establish a perfect and permanent relationship with Him in heaven. The glory of God is best manifested in heaven.
In heaven, we shall come to see Him as He really is (cf. 1Jn.3:2). Beholding the fullness of the glory of God is the best thing that can ever happen to anyone. But then, only those who have glorified God in this world will be glorified by God in the world to come. Our take-home assignment from today’s liturgy is to sincerely ask ourselves: “Am I glorifying God in this world?” All our words and actions are never neutral to this; we are either glorifying God or not. The liturgy has the dual goal of glorifying God and sanctifying man. Both are intertwined, for it is the glory of God that sanctifies man. Again, I will ask myself: “Is my life a liturgy?” That is, does my life glorify God and also communicate this glory to others? When we make daily effort to answer this question in the affirmative, only then can we confidently pray in the words of the psalmist today: “I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living”. I tell most solemnly, it pays to be good; for even when man forgets, God ever rewards. God Bless You!
• Rev. Fr. Evaristus Okeke is a Priest of the Archdiocese of Benin City.