In this Sunday’s gospel the themes of glorification, shame and love are presented to us. Perhaps, you may be tempted to think that these values are really for the ‘goody two-shoes’ or the ‘really holy prayer warriors’ among us.
But, let’s carefully consider how events right in our own space call us to form an opinion about which side of the divide will influence our choices and how love as the preferred choice helps everyone to fare well.
The glorification story reference is not of the distant future, but NOW. Now is the time when we’re called to open our eyes, minds and hearts to the truth that the previously thought ‘shame’ of the Cross really is love unbridled.
That ‘shame’ is humility and weakness transformed into overcoming—Love conquering all. How do we transcribe that in a way that makes a positive difference, through our actions and choices, even as those decisions may be counter-cultural? Why should we so choose?
Well, let’s consider the terms and their relevance to what we seek to achieve. ‘Glory’ is not lauding it over anybody, but the evidence or results of choosing better options, of forming a worldview which cares for the other. Glory also emerges in safeguarding one’s reputation. Loving one another— whereby “everyone will recognise you as my disciples”, brings honour to self and community.
You may say that glorification and honour favours the brave and courageous. Yes! Choosing integrity all the time takes courage. Especially so when clique or internal pressure urges you to skim some off or take a bribe, or the conscience is dulled by a disposition which distracts for a “few pieces of silver” (or several million pieces).
Some choose that poorly fateful ‘now’ of stolen abundance, over the more solid ‘now’ of sound reputation and safeguarding the family name, so avoiding communal lambasting and vilification in the all-pervasive media. While Jesus promises to prepare for and receive us into Himself, others choose to receive ill-gotten material gains. What do you choose?
Here, you’re considering now an intangible future fulfilment or an already realised Johannine-inferred presence where your shelter, shield and submission to the will of God assures you that abundance befitting your needs is yours! Perhaps you’re thinking that it’s like the cable game shows. But, these are choices that have everlasting consequences!
Even as we make a decision to take the option of Providence over palm-greasing or corruption, real love for neighbour helps us to support those who may be struggling.
Consider that sin and corruption have a radically social dimension: injury, alienation, hostility. This is evident in the persistent poverty— economic and intellectual—in our communities, while many live gluttonous lives, without concern for the hungry, desperate, lonely and lost even on their own doorstep! This is the story of the refugee and migrant; the national, crossing borders inland or the ‘Vene’, across the sea.
We live in an imperfect world, so courage and discernment are required, even as one strives to give new life, to stretch our hands, to rescue, to sing a new song, to soothe the distress of persons seeking a safe haven.
Sadly, carrying Good News often encounters resistance. Wisely, we need to use power and influence with love. Self-sacrifice fuels commitment to an honourable, loving ‘fare well’ to the converted and ‘gentiles’ alike. In this way, we can change history, against the odds, marching to victory as pilgrim soldiers on the way to glory.
Are you up to the challenge?