Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday in the 19th Week of Ordinary Time (II)
Memorial of St. Maximilian Kolbe
Two Faces of Glory

Readings: Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28c; Psalm 148:1-2, 11-12, 13, 14; Matthew 17:22-27

In the responsorial psalm, we acclaim the glory of God that fills the whole earth. What does this mean? The other readings help us in our meditation.

In the first reading we have Ezekiel’s vision of the glory of God. There is thunder and lightning, fire and wind… But central to the vision is the human-like figure ablaze in glorious light. This awesome vision of the power and majesty of God, who chooses to appear as a human figure presents us with one face of God’s glory. Probably not many of us will have experienced a vision such as Ezekiel’s, at least not with the same intensity. But perhaps some of us will have seen this face of God’s glory – perhaps in a beautiful sunset, or in the face of a new-born child, in praise and worship, or in silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

In the gospel Jesus, the God-human, speaks of his own impending suffering and death. Surely this is a radical contrast to Ezekiel’s vision. What has power and majesty to do with suffering and death? How could Jesus’ prophecy about his own fate have anything to do with God’s glory? The incident with Peter and the fish provides some indication. On their own, suffering and death are evils to be lamented and avoided if at all possible. But, as we well know, there is a deeper significance to Jesus’ suffering and death. Rather than seeking to escape his fate Jesus embraces it. Why? Just as Jesus pays the temple tax for Peter – despite not being obligated to do so – so by his suffering and death, Jesus pays the debt owed by humanity to the horrible reality of sin. And it is the love that motivates this self-sacrificing payment that presents us with another face of God’s glory. This second face of glory is perhaps less easily recognized than the first. But it is by no means uncommon. Consider the saint we celebrate today. While Maximilian Kolbe was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, a prisoner escaped, and the Nazis responded by choosing ten people to die by starvation. One of the men had a family, and Kolbe, a Franciscan, voluntarily died in his place. Like Jesus before him, Kolbe embraced death for love of another. We probably don’t see sacrifices like Kolbe’s everyday. But are there not people in our lives who die to themselves for love of others in less conspicuous but no less admirable and inspiring ways?

What face of God’s glory are we being shown today?


  1. Thank you, Fr Chris. Some of us have seen this face of God's glory in your edifying and beautifully-written homilies. AMDG.

  2. The THIRD face of glory.
    Up to not so long ago, I was in the thick of un-imaginable office politics and skulduggery. Evil was gaining the upper-hand and seemed to have won! And then, all of a sudden, it was defeated and goodness prevailed. There, for a moment, I glimpsed the Presence of a victorious, glorious God that no prose or painting could've conveyed. We know that Jesus has triumphed over evil once and for all, but to experience His victory in the here and now is especially consoling. Pace.

  3. Stephen,

    You have been graced with divine epiphanies which transfigure each of us if we are suitably disposed.
    His loving presence in everyday events often lead grateful hearts to silently mutter "Thanks be to God". Sharing our experiences reaffirm these transcendent events.

    Praise Him,