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  • Father David M. Knight

Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Sixteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial Verse invites us, “Sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory” (Exodus 15:1). What is

God’s glory? Where do we see it?

The Hebrew word for glory, unlike ours, does not speak of fame, but of the actual value of someone. God’s “glory” is God himself revealing his power and holiness, the majesty and dynamism of his being. What reveals the glory of God to us?

In Exodus 14: 5-18, when the people saw the Egyptians coming in pursuit, in their fright they thought God had betrayed them. And this is the temptation we all feel when pain is unbearable. Where is God? Why does he let this happen?

For countless [Vietnam] veterans that same question remains unanswered. They… are convinced that God failed them at their moment of greatest need…. [They] had been led to believe that God would never let them down, that he would always lead them to victory over evil and preserve them in battle…. They feel terribly betrayed to this day.[1]

In the Exodus story, God did reveal his glory through victory. And this was fairly typical in the Old Testament. God revealed himself in terms people could understand. But with Jesus all this changed. Difficult as it is for us to accept, Jesus does not promise to save us from suffering. He just promises to save us through it when it happens, so that nothing can truly harm us. Like Jesus, we and all we love will rise to glory. Can we accept a savior who saves us this way?[2]

In Matthew 12: 38-42 Jesus tells the Pharisees the only “sign” he will give to reveal his glory to them is the “sign of Jonah,” his death and resurrection. The great scandal to both Jews and Christians, then and now, is that God let Jesus be defeated. The Father apparently abandoned his Son to his enemies. Not until Jesus’ resurrection did they see his glory — but it was already fully present in his sacrificial death — a sign for those who have eyes to see. It is visible in the same way at Mass.

The sign of Jesus’ resurrection today is his life visibly evident on earth in the members of his risen body, the Church. In the measure that our actions cannot be explained without grace, the presence of Jesus’ own divine life in us, we are the “sign of Jonah.” This is what “glorifies” Jesus. The glory of God appears in our ministry when through our expression of divine faith, hope and love we make it evident Jesus has risen, is alive, and using his power now to save people by working in and through us, his risen body on earth. “Let us sing to the Lord”: he is covering himself in glory now — through our ministry.[3]

In the host at Mass Christ is present simultaneously as crucified, risen and returning in glory. These are all one moment in God’s time, but separated in the liturgy into three “elevations” which focus successively on “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” But all are present together in the Mass.

Initiative: Be a priest. Glorify God by letting his life express itself in you.

[1] Out of the Night, Mahedy, Ballantine, 1986.

[2] See Luke 21: 16-19.

[3] John 15:8; 17:10.

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