Thursday 29 July 2021

ST. JOHN 13:31-35


                                                         When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.” [v.31]

Judas now gone it is as if the darkness left as well and Jesus is free to pour out a flow of words as a living stream of His love for His Apostles – and all of us. Now Jesus is among friends, yes friends with all their neediness and foibles, the difficulty in taking into to their own hearts the fullness of His love and teachings, a difficulty which will be burned away by the fire of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

…….. only he can be a friend of God who knows God, and this is possible only through Christ His Son. [1]

It was said of St. Abba Anthony that he was such a friend of God that: “Where Anthony is, God is.”

If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. [v.32]

We should stand before these words as awestruck as Moses before the burning bush; hear them with the exhilarated hearts of the Shepherds and Magi kneeling, bending to look into the manger and see glory Himself in the flesh; being as attentive as the Emmaus Disciples to every syllable and feel the fire of glory as our hearts burn within us.

Jesus is teaching us here both the reality of what transpires on the Cross, what shines and shimmers to the furthest reaches of the cosmos, penetrating ever human heart.

We tend to use the word glory within the constraints of the limits of human experience, thus when surprised we might mutter a glory be to God!; react to a splendid dawn or sunset naming as glorious, even perhaps experience a tremor of joy at such a sight. Every human enunciation of the word, and all its many synonyms, pales before the incredible reality Jesus speaks here to us.

The son ineffably glorified the Father by the humility of his passion, and the Father also ineffably glorified his Son by lifting him to his right hand. The glorification flowed down to the whole human race. [2]

If we wish to glimpse the glory of which Jesus speaks, if we wish to understand the dynamic movement between the Father and the Son, we need to encounter Jesus, true God, and true man, indeed go walking until we meet Him who is always coming towards us:  A man came walking out of Galilee, and his eyes were so clear that if anyone let his look in, it healed the heart and showed forth the glory of the Kingdom shining, within and without, even more simply than the everyday sun. So much clarity, too much for some, and they tried to stuff his light back into the black hole of death. But might as well pour the Milky Way into a bag: on the third day the Master came forth from the darkness as calmly as he had from Galilee, changing the darkness itself into the brightness of the day without end. Now his eyes could reach to the end of time and space to lift the veil from every heart and to give to all creatures the glorious revelation of the children of God. I look toward him, toward Jesus, my Master, and I behold his glory, and I see all my days pass into his eyes so that I too may “be changed into his likeness from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18) [3]

My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for Me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you. [v.33]

Jesus is revealing His profound love for His Apostles by referring to them as His children revealing how intimate His love for them is. Further there are echoes in those words of the pain in His Heart, for love and pain are inseparable. In the unfolding of the Last Supper, they still are clueless about what is to happen to Jesus or rather what Jesus is about to surrender Himself to.

Later, after His Holy Resurrection He will be with them anew and then, after His Ascension, with them, with us, always as by the sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit we will live lives in imitation of Christ, for some to martyrdom, for everyone to the tomb until He raises us to be with Him, the Father, the Holy Spirit for ever in an eternity of communion of love.

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. [vs. 34,35]

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday's Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

If only living out the Great Commandment was as romantic as Elizabeth’s love for her husband, granted a relationship which, like many marriages, had its struggles. In a word if only the Great Commandment could be lived out by loving those we like, or who like us.

Such is not the case. Indeed, it could be argued of all the God-given Ten Commandments in the Old Testament, and all Jesus’ exhortations for us to forgive our enemies, care for Him in the hungry, the stranger etc., this is the no wiggle room, no exceptions commandment because of the four key words: As I have loved you……

St. Paul gives the authentic Trinitarian love-poem: For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that He may grant you in accord with the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. [Ep. 3:14-19] Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit, love us infinitely unconditionally precisely in this and every moment of our lives, be we entangled in negative emotions, doubts, struggles, sins, sickness, loneliness, heartache: whatever state we are in we are beloved, irrespective also of any of the judgemental criteria of others which burden us with a lack of self love.

The Commandment to love one another as Christ loves us is so overflowing with the fire of His love for us we are bathed in the light and strength to live it out. Such love has nothing to do with emotion, everything to do with choice; nothing to do with how I feel, what kind of day I am having, what space I occupy – even people in labour camps, concentration camps, refugee camps, criminals in prison, etc., etc., each of us can choose to love or not.

This is the very choice Jesus made as He became a person like us in all things but sin, while heading directly from the womb of His Mother to the Cross and the Tomb, because Divine Love does such things. We are also called to love, love, love, without counting the cost.

Is our divine worship not a matter of loving people in our daily life?.......Can there be any other holy time than the time for practicing love of neighbour, whenever and wherever the circumstances of our life demand it?.......Christ’s Sacrifice was accepted long ago. True, but in the form of representation it has not come to an end……..This Sacrifice is complete only when the world has become a place of love……Only then… worship perfected and what happened on Golgotha completed.  [4]


[1] THE LORD, Romano Guardini; p. 356; Henry Regnery Company, 1954 [italics are mine]

[2] ROBERT BELLARMINE Spiritual Writings; The Mind’s Ascent To God; p.193; Paulist Press, 1989 [italics are mine]

[3] CIRCLING THE SUN, MEDITATIONS ON CHRIST IN LITURGY AND TIME, Robert D. Pelton, p.189; The Pastoral Press, 1986 [out of print/italics are mine]

[4] JOSEPH RATZINGER COLLECTED WORKS THEOLOGY OF THE LITURGY; pp. 31 & 34,35; Ignatius Press, 2014 [italics are mine]

© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph


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