First Reading: Acts 1:12-14; Psalm: 27. R. v. 13; Second Reading: 1Pt 4:13-16; Gospel: Jn 17:1-11a
THE WAY TO GLORY
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
“Father, glorify your Son.” (Jn 17:1)
We have one more week left to bring the Easter season to a close because next Sunday we shall be celebrating the feast of the Pentecost. The Easter season commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It is a period spanning from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday; a period of fifty days. However, the gospel reading of today seemed to be drawing us backwards because it was about the Priestly prayer of Jesus before his passion in Jerusalem. One would expect a consensual synergy between the readings and the season; but we are here presented with a pre-passion narrative even as we celebrate the Easter season. Why is it so?
First, we need to understand that there is no discrepancy here; for the gospel of today is still on course with the season of Easter. And secondly, we can only understand this if we knew what Jesus meant when he said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” Now, what hour exactly was Jesus talking about? It was the hour of his death that would also lead to his resurrection and ascension. And if we had just celebrated the ascension of the Lord three days ago, then it means we are still within this hour of Jesus’ glorification as we wait in prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The glorification of Jesus found its culmination in his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. When Jesus asked the Father to glorify him, he knew what he was asking. He knew that his glorification will not be possible without his passion. He knew that suffering for the right reason was the path to glory. And he understood that glory and pain are intertwined. So how was Jesus glorified? Jesus was glorified by being arrested, manhandled, betrayed, denied, tortured, disgraced, and crucified. Jesus must be lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself (Jn 12:32). And eventually, the Father will be glorified through his resurrection and ascension. What a rich lesson to emulate.
St Peter exhorts us in the second reading to rejoice when we share in Christ’s suffering because when Christ’s glory is revealed, our joy will be complete. And how can we identify Christ’s suffering? It is suffering for the right reason. As St Peter adjured, let none of us suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a wrong-doer, or a mischief-maker. (1Pt 4:15). If we must suffer, let it be for something good. Because “If we are reproached for the name of Christ, we are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon us.” (1Pt 4:14). So the spirit of glory does not abhor reproach, attack, suffering, or condemnation but sees them as a stepping stone to greatness. If we suffered for the right reason; we shall also be glorified.
As Christians, we must not lose our jobs because we were found cheating or stealing. If we must lose our jobs, let it be because we were honest and opposed to deceit and fraud. Let it be because we were fighting unjust structures to promote the reign of God on earth. If we must face aspersion or accused of ulterior motives, let it be because we had refused to be an accomplice to injustice and lies and not for any selfish reasons. And if you must be called a stingy spouse, let it be because you have refused to be extravagant but thrifty. People may not see or understand the good we do almost immediately; but we shall be justified and glorified with time.
Whenever we do good, God is glorified by our works. And God will glorify us in return. Jesus testified to this when he said, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do; and now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made.” (Jn 17:4-5). Jesus was the faithful Son of the Father who did all that the Father commanded him to do and by that glorified God. And the Father in return glorified him. If we remained faithful to the agony of good works, we shall be glorified by the Father also.
While Jesus had ascended back to the Father, let us like the apostles and Mary remain faithful in prayer and good works as we await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost who will strengthen us to become bold witnesses of the gospel. So that we may remain steadfast amidst the trials that comes with the call to discipleship. And then having glorified God by our faithfulness, God will in turn glorify us with the reward of eternal life in heaven.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, we pray for the grace to remain steadfast in good works as we suffer for what is right; so that your name may be glorified and we may be glorified in return. Amen