Friday, June 3, 2011

Eternal Life and True Glory

Seventh Sunday of Easter Year A

Jesus today prays that he may be glorified by his Father. What does it mean to be glorified? Is glory the equivalent of popularity, public acceptance, praises and a good name? Is glory being placed on a high pedestal winning everyone’s admiration?

When Jesus spoke of his own glory he was speaking about the cross. Being crucified, dying on the cross – that was his glory! This is certainly very hard to understand. How can the cross, a symbol of shame, rejection and death be at the same time a symbol of victory, glory and life? This is indeed what the readings are telling us.

St. Peter must have finally understood this truth much later in his life. The apostles, while Jesus was still with them,were always fighting over positions of honour. They were very concerned with the issue: “Who is the greatest?” Peter himself recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, but found it hard to accept the fact that Jesus must suffer and die. He could not even accept the fact that Jesus had wanted to wash his feet.

But in today’s second reading, we can see that Peter has finally understood the meaning of the cross and true glory. He writes: “If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed. It is a blessing for you when they insult you for bearing the name of Christ, because it means that you have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting on you.”

This is true glory. This is eternal life. Eternal life does not mean a very long life. Eternal life does not mean a life without suffering or problems. But eternal life is what Jesus has said in the gospel, “to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. To know that Jesus Christ has been sent by God to save us gives us the hope and the strength to patiently endure all trials and difficulties. To know that we are not abandoned by God in times of trials but that we have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting on us, is eternal life.

Today, if you suffer and receive all kinds of insults for being a Christian, today, if you are misunderstood and rejected by people because of your faith, then listen to words of St. Peter – you are not to be ashamed of it, you must thank God that you are called a Christian.

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