Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday in the 25th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam

Readings: Haggai 2:1-9; Psalm 43:1, 2, 3, 4; Luke 9:18-22

Ad maiorem dei gloriam. These are words that every devotee of St. Ignatius of Loyola knows well. To the greater glory of God. To be a follower of St. Ignatius is to share in the desire that burned within his heart, not just to work for God’s glory, but God’s greater glory. These words can inspire in many a deep and intense motivation for action. They can be quoted easily and often, even with clenched fists, as a rallying cry. Let’s do such and such. Why? For the greater glory of God. But one must also be careful. For as easy as these words are to learn and to recite, their meaning is far more difficult to grasp.

This, I believe, is a possible reason for Jesus’ strange reaction in the gospel today. When his disciples call him the Christ (the anointed one) of God, he rebukes them. Why? Could it be because they have a very particular, and also a very mistaken, or at least inadequate, understanding of what it means to be anointed by God? Could it be because, even though they have gotten the words right, they have yet to grasp their true meaning? Could it be because, in their minds, they associate the Christ with glory without really knowing what the face of glory looks like? At this point in their following of Jesus, the idea that glory could be found in a face as bruised and bloodied as the thorn-crowned head of Christ as he hangs from the cross, is still far from their minds. Such that when Jesus is arrested, most of them will flee for their lives. So much for getting the words right. What they have still to learn is the meaning behind the words.

And this will only happen when they are forced, by circumstances beyond their control, to confront their own cowardice and fear, their own reluctance to share in their master’s passion. They will only come to recognize the face of glory when they are driven to do what we find Jesus doing in the gospel today, to gaze upon and to ponder, in prayerful solitude, the prospect of the cross. For it is only when they do this that the promise made in the first reading can be fulfilled in them. It is only when they do this that they will experience the power of God’s presence, recognize the glory of God’s Temple, in their midst.

Where is the face of God’s glory to be found in our own lives today?

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