Sermon 30: 7th. Sunday of Eastertide (A)
(Acts 1:12-14; 1st. Peter 4:13-16; John 17:1-11)
Jesus, at Supper with His beloved Apostles, was speaking His last free words. Soon His suffering would be too great, and those surrounding Him too hostile, for Him to be able to speak freely, let alone open His heart in public prayer. So, here we have Him, surveying the whole course of His life, what had gone before and that which still lay ahead:
Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, I have glorified You on the earth, I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
From those words we can gather that the whole purpose of Jesus’ life on earth was, primarily, to give glory to His Father by completing the task His Father opened up before Him. God the Father loved the world so much that He willed His only-begotten Son to take on human flesh. It is true, of course, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, loved the world as One God indeed, but since the Son Who came into our world is begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, it is quite truly and understandably said that “the Father loved the world, mankind, so much”. When therefore the Son came into this world as man it was with the over-riding purpose of responding as divinely perfect man to His Father’s great goodness by glorifying His Father: He lived and died for us in order to glorify the Father.
Here at the Last Supper Jesus asks for the help He would need to carry out His purpose to its ultimate fulfilment:
Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
That is, “Father, I have already given You glory in my life, by my preaching, teaching, miracles, and by leading these disciples to believe in You; now give Me that final help whereby I might glorify You supremely by dying on the Cross for love of You and Your purposes for mankind, and by rising again to You in glory.”
Now, you are well aware, I trust, that Holy Mass is likewise celebrated in the first place for the glory of God. Do you, however, understand just what that means? It means this: Jesus, the Son of God made man, considered it His supreme calling to die for the glory of His Father’s name and for the fulfilment of His Father’s good will. It means that when I, as a priest of Jesus in Mother Church, hold up His Precious Body and Blood saying “Through Him, with Him, in Him; in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is Yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever”, then, I am saying on behalf of the whole Church and in the name of Jesus Himself: “Father, You are so wonderful that we, here in Mother Church, are offering You the very sacrifice which Jesus made of Himself for love of You. Jesus, your beloved and only-begotten Son, the glory of mankind, considered it His supreme calling and desire to die for Your Glory and for the fulfilment of Your will; and as Head of the Body which is His Church, He wills to associate His pilgrim Church on earth with Himself in that offering made once on Calvary and which He now constantly presents before You in heaven where, Scripture tells us:
He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
It is by obeying His call to offer herself in spirit and in truth with Him, that Mother Church is thereby enabled to become more and more truly the Body of Christ – and in her, you and I are called to become other Christs (Catechism 2782) -- just as the offering of bread and wine becomes the sacramental Body and Blood of Christ.
Now, consider that since Jesus is the Son, equal in His Divine Nature with the Father, it is not the Father’s power or majesty or anything of that Divine Nature which so delight’s His co-equal Son, since He already has and shares in all that the Father has, together with the Holy Spirit. No, it is the very Person of the Father Who is so uniquely wonderful in the eyes of Jesus His Son made flesh on earth. And so, Holy Mass, the Eucharist, our supreme thanksgiving, is above all the confession and acknowledgement of the Person of the Father, given by the Son and His Church in power of the Holy Spirit. By His sacrificial glorifying of the Father in His human flesh on the Cross, Jesus saved us, won us freedom from the devil's power, and here, at Holy Mass we can join with Him in His unceasing offering of that sacrifice on our behalf before the Father; and that is why Mother Church both encourages and leads us to proclaim at Mass:
Glory to God in the Highest and peace to His People on earth.
That glorifying of God with Jesus is indeed the supreme way mankind can learn both peace on earth and become -- in Him -- true, adoptive, and most loving, children of God, as St. Paul tells us:
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26);
and as Mother Church teaches us in the catechism (1405): ‘Every time this mystery (of the Eucharist) is celebrated the work of our redemption is carried on.’
Father, how wonderful You are, for it is our supreme privilege and joy to be able to offer You this Eucharist Sacrifice wherein we give you divine Praise and fitting Thanksgiving and also cooperate with and share in the work of our world's salvation, through Jesus Christ, you beloved Son, our dearest Lord and Saviour!
In the second reading we heard St. Peter tell us:
If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
There, Peter calls the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Glory. It was because He was totally led by the Spirit of Glory that Jesus was enabled to give glory to the Father and it is in power of the same Spirit, bequeathed to us by the Risen Lord, that we too are enabled and inspired to give glory to God. However, we should be clear what that means and what it entails, for quite often Christians think that it is by they themselves doing something notable, remarkable, that they give glory to God. by attributing it to Him, perhaps by saying “I could not have done it of myself”, or “It was really God not me who did it.” That however is ‘Thanksgiving’ to God, something that can, indeed, be quite beautiful, but it is not ‘Glory’ to God, for true glory to God is only given by way of witness to the wonder of God’s own beauty, truth, goodness, power and majesty: it is not an achievement, a ‘glory’ which is first of all ours, coming from something wonderful we have done, and which we then attribute to God.
In order to be able to give true glory to God we must needs come to recognize, and be filled with awe and admiration at the wonder of His Being and the splendour of His creation, at the beauty of our world, and the worth and dignity of our brethren. For that we must be open to, and filled with, the Spirit of glory and joy.
Rejoice Mary the Lord is with you!
At this time, therefore, we should do as did the Apostles, of whom we were told in the first reading:
They went up into the upper room where they were staying (in Jerusalem): Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
They all joined in prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Helper, the Comforter, the Spirit of Glory, promised by Jesus. We too, dear People of God, ought to most sincerely and wholeheartedly join in the prayer of Mother Church at this Eucharist for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Mother Church and into our individual hearts this coming Pentecost. We should want what He wants to result from His coming, begging that He might reveal to us the beauty of the Father and the glory of the Risen Lord Jesus, and that He might also make Himself known to us by the peace and joy His presence gives to our hearts and the light and understanding with which He graces our minds . In that way, we can hope that we may ultimately come to regard it as life's supreme blessing to be able to offer ourselves in sacrifice with Jesus to the Father.
Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You.