Glorify God

05-15-2022Weekly Reflection© J. S. Paluch Company

In the first sentence of today’s Gospel passage from John, Jesus’ address at the Last Supper, the words “glorify” or “glorified” appear five times. For John, glory has to do with honor and reputation, the primary characteristic of a person. John thus invites us to reflect upon what God's glory fully means. God is glorified when God's truest nature is revealed, as the God who loves.

Today’s passage is situated between two demonstrations of Jesus’ love: the washing of feet and going to the cross. The capacity to glorify God extends to all of us. Like Jesus, love is revealed both in our mundane acts of service and in our acts and commitments of great sacrifice. Jesus’ “new commandment,” flowing from God’s love within us, invites us to extend and deepen our love for others, to include everyone. We may then reveal God’s truest nature to everyone, and so glorify God.

Made for Each Other

We are introduced to the book of Revelation’s great concluding vision in our second reading. The completion of God’s project of salvation is described as a new Jerusalem coming from heaven, to form a new heaven and new earth. The image of a marriage articulates this vision, in which the two sides of God’s good creation, earth and heaven, are joined in a final union. Earth (the physical universe) will not be destroyed, but instead be fully renewed.

This vision rejects any notion that the physical and the spiritual are ultimately separate and opposed to each other. It rejects the idea that heaven is an escape from a prison of earthly life. Like a marriage partnership, these two sides of reality are fundamentally made for each other. Life in heaven and life on earth are quite different now. But the life of faith, here and now, offers a foretaste of God’s promised future.

All Things New

The new heaven and new earth described by Revelation is where God will dwell fully among God’s beloved creation. God’s reign will be a reign of love, where death will be no more. In Revelation, death fuels fear and resentment, which turn to cycles of violence and destruction, and to social systems that sustain injustice. These cycles of death will one day be broken by love. In God’s reign of love, new energies of creativity and human fulfillment can be released.

When God says “behold, I make all things new,” God is speaking of both the present and the future. God is working now, in every person and community, in every part of part of creation, to bring about this new reality. We the Church must learn to see God working in our lives, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods, breaking cycles of death. We are summoned to join in what God is doing, releasing new energies of love, anticipating the final fulfillment of God’s work.