I grew up in a small town on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and the upside of growing up in a small town is that almost everyone knew each other. Sometimes there is also a downside to it. Wherever I went and whatever I did, everyone knew me as Mr. Devadass’ son. If there was something good I had done, Mr. Devadass would be praised and if it was something not so good, Mr. Devadass got notified almost immediately. Only my friends knew me by name while to everyone else, my “identity” was only in relation to my father.
The reason why I shared the above is because the gospel today puts forth a similar framework. The people of Jesus’ time knew the Father but did not know the Son. They thought they knew the Father so well and that it was not possible for Him to come to dwell among them. So, when Jesus tried to make the association that He and the Father are one, but they got upset, called it blasphemy, and nailed Him to the cross.
In the gospel today, Jesus expresses the special relationship that He shares with the Father in the midst of His disciples. It is clear that Jesus speaks from the depths of His heart. He tells His disciples of the Father’s love for Him and His love for His Father, who is the heart and core of His very being. Therefore, in Jesus’ submission to the cross, however painful that will turn out to be, the glory of God will be made manifest. In the same way, in this final discourse with His disciples, Jesus prayed that through them He will in turn be glorified just as how Jesus glorifies the Father.
As we fix our eyes on the coming feast of the Pentecost, the renewal that the Holy Spirit brings to the life of the Church is for the glorification of God. When we speak of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, it can never be intended for the glory of the individual – to the one who has been gifted. It is given for the glory of the Father who made all things. In this prayer of Jesus, it is clear that God created us for a relationship with Him – a relationship that points to the Lordship of God over our lives.
St. Irenaeus, the great second-century theologian, spoke of the essence of Christianity when he said “the glory of God is a man [and woman] fully alive!” The glory of God is the invisible qualities, character, or attributes of God displayed in a visible way. Jesus made this visible in His ministry and as disciples, we too must make the glory of God visible. When we strive consciously to share Jesus’ love and care with others, even through simple and daily repetitive acts, we are making Jesus visible and the glory of God is manifested.
When we live a fulfilling, faith-filled, and joyful life led by the Holy Spirit, our lives then point to the “glory of God”. It is in this relationship with the Heavenly Father that we find our Christian identity to glorify Him who created us ‘in His image and likeness’. Amen.