V Sunday of Easter
19 May 2019
When I was a kid I used to participate in a “Passion Play” that was put on by people in my home parish of St. Francis of Assisi in North Adams. I started out as an extra… I was the “crowd”. As the years went on I was promoted to be one of the Apostles … but guess which one?? Yup… Judas! I remember the scene of the betrayal… the man playing Jesus – my friend Dan – would go around to each of for the sign of peace. When he got to me, we locked eyes and I departed the scene. Dan was really into it and I will never for the look of disappointment he gave me at each performance.
Isn’t interesting how Jesus tells His disciples that after Judas leaves the scene, only now is He glorified… adored, worshiped, exalted. Judas had a self-serving attitude. He hands over Jesus, betrays Him only for self-gain. But in that, Jesus was able to display His own self-giving … He was able to carry out His mission of giving of Himself in love for others … That’s the glory … the glory of love. As God, the only love He is capable of is divine love… agape … love of a higher order … a love that confers goodness on others.
There is a certain tension here between Judas and Jesus … between selfishness and selfless-ness … between love of self-gain and a love that confers goodness on others… It is a tension found within us … How often do we respond in ways that are self-serving, prideful … how often do we make decisions that are self-promoting, in ways that work for our gain or defend our cause … I can’t tell you how often I respond in theses ways … it is embarrassing even to say but there are times when I realize that the way I have reacted to a situation or the way I handled myself was not very Christ-like… That is not giving God glory … that is not love … Jesus makes it quite clear that hallmark of discipleship is to love. To give glory – honor, praise, worship, adoration – to God … it is not a love for personal gain, it is not selfish … it is ‘agape’ – the love of a higher order … a love that confers goodness on others.
How then do we give glory to God in our lives? In the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches us that our spiritual lives, drawing closer to God assumes that we love Him… it assumes that there is a personal love relationship with Jesus Christ. In that context, when we love someone there is built within a desire to please that person, to make him or her happy. This love, even on the human level, expresses itself in words and in deeds. It is no different with God. If we desire to give glory, honor, praise, adoration to God we must express it … we must desire to please Him, serve Him and follow His will. And we do so in word and in deed … When we love in such a way that confers goodness on others… when we drink in His love – the love, graces, and blessings that come from our personal prayer, from the sacraments … in particular confession and Holy Communion – then are we able to confer goodness on others … “this is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” … in other words, this is how they will know that Christ is in us … when we display the same love as His – selfless, self-giving, a love that confers goodness on others … only then is He realized in us… and then do we truly give Him the glory, honor, praise and adoration that He so rightly deserves.