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This is an interesting Gospel reading for a Sunday of Easter. Jesus has just washed the feet of his apostles. Judas left the Passover meal to betray him. Jesus will soon face his terrible crucifixion and brutal death. It is in this context that Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”
Glory is shown in power and might. How is Jesus glorified in his death?
I recently saw the production of the Broadway hit, Jesus Christ Superstar, here in Cleveland. As Jesus was being scourged with whips and his body was bloodied, some members of the cast were also throwing gold dust on him. At the end of the scourging, Jesus was covered in blood and specks of sparkling gold. Perhaps a theologian was consulted in this particular production!
Yes, there is glory in the willingness of Jesus to go to death on our account. There is glory that comes when the Jesus obeys his Heavenly Father for the salvation of our souls. Jesus, in dying for us, is showing us the power and strength of love itself. There is glory in the blood of the lamb who takes away the sins of the world. And then there is glory in his ability to conquer death and rise up to new life. This new life is the life that is promised to all of us who follow him. It is echoed in the statement of God in the second reading for today from the Book of Revelation, “Behold, I make all things new.” This is the love that God has for us — a love that is willing to die on the cross in order to lift us up in glory with him on that last day.
Then Jesus gave us the “new commandment” (notice, it is not a suggestion). He said, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”
Like the gift of Jesus to us from the cross, love is the emptying of oneself for someone else.
This type of self-giving love is exemplified in a parent willing to die for a child. This type of love is exchanged in the promises of marriage, where a pledge is made to stay true to the other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. This type of love “is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury” (1 Cor 13:5) because it seeks the good of the other.
Let us learn to love, not to hate, and to give rather than to take. Let us build each other up rather than tear each other down, and give life rather than take it. This is the way we have been made to be; in fact, we have been made in this image of God, who gave us his Son to die for us. The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World of the Second Vatican Council said that, “[Christ’s] love fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.” In other words, Jesus reveals that we were made to give our life for others. We were made to love.