Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Lent 2015 - Nine

Passion / Death / Glorification

The HOUR has come 
for the Son of Man to be glorified.

As we prepare to enter Holy Week there are two important words that will focus our attention: HOUR and GLORIFY. Sometimes the word "hour" refers simply and literally to a short period of chronological time (a 60-minute period during the day). But in John's gospel, "Jesus' hour" refers more broadly and metaphorically to the climactic event of Jesus' death and resurrection, which it also refers to as his "glorification". (Jo.12:23; 17:1)

As you see these words occurring throughout the course of John's gospel, you realize how important they are to understanding the message of the gospel. Jesus understood well why he was sent, "... it is for this HOUR that I have come". We must understand how we too are connected to these words; that Jesus' HOUR continues through time, for it is the final HOUR in the story of creation. It is now our hour in time.

To be a true Christian, one must be drawn into the effects of this HOUR, for it is our destiny as well. We must share in the passion of the Cross by the "Christ-like" acceptance of the crosses in our lives. We must undergo the death of all desire for what is sin, the product of evil, until it no longer has influence over us. Finally, we say with Jesus, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit and we enter into our glorification.

We may be able to identify with suffering in its many manifestation. So too, we can appreciate the struggle that is required to conquer the inordinate passions that would subdue us. We will all face our own death, our final hour on earth. But how do we understand glorification?

It is not uncommon to hear the expression, "glorious", used to describe something one beholds with their eyes, i.e. a theatrical production, a celebration, such as a wedding or an Easter liturgy, sunset and sunrise, the vista of a natural landscape. By glorious we mean something of breathtaking beauty, fulfilled to perfection, eclipsing all our superlatives.

Jesus' disciples beheld such a vision in the transfiguration of Jesus.

( He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Mtt. 17:2)

St. Paul beheld the glorious risen Jesus, which began his conversion. In Acts he describes it in his own words:  “But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ ... “And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. Acts 22:6

Paul tells that the glorious brightness of the light caused him to be temporally blinded so that he had to led by the hand into Damascus.

This glorification, seen in Jesus, is the glorification God has planned every soul that comes into His presence. It is natural humanity transfigured into a new state, the state of grace. St. Catherine of Siena was given a vision of a soul glorified.
The Soul in the State of Grace- Catherine of Siena was permitted by God to see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace. It was so beautiful that she could not look on it; the brightness of that soul dazzled her. Blessed Raymond, her confessor, asked her to describe to him, as far as she was able, the beauty of the soul she had seen. St. Catherine thought of the sweet light of that morning, and of the beautiful colours of the rainbow, but that soul was far more beautiful. She remembered the dazzling beams of the noonday sun, but the light which beamed from that soul was far brighter. She thought of the pure whiteness of the lily and of the fresh snow, but that is only an earthly whiteness. The soul she had seen was bright with the whiteness of Heaven, such as there is not to be found on earth. ” My father,” she answered. “I cannot find anything in this world that can give you the smallest idea of what I have seen. Oh, if you could but see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace, you would sacrifice your life a thousand times for its salvation. I asked the angel who was with me what had made that soul so beautiful, and he answered me, “It is the image and likeness of God in that soul, and the Divine Grace which made it so beautiful.” (Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena )
The goal of the prayer of meditation/contemplation is to connect us consciously with the process of glorification that has begun in us, through our state of grace. This way of prayer opens a vista for us to see into our souls. We experience on a human level what is happening to us on a mystical level. The ways we perceive this experience can vary, from a sense of peace coming over our heart, to visions and revelations, such as describe by the saints and the spiritual writers, (like Catherine of Siena).

It is important that we realize our glorification has already begun in us by the state of grace of our souls. People may not be blinded by our outward appearance as we walk around, but there is an evidence that is perceptible to everyone. It is the fruit of our lives, the works of holiness and charity that we display by our actions. All the trees may look alike. You can tell the good ones by their fruit. (Mtt. 7:16)
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The following are the references for Jesus' Hour in John's gospel.

  • Jesus, to his mother, at the Wedding at Cana: 2:4 “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”
  • Jesus, to the Jews (using the word "kairos"): 7:6 – Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.”
  • The Evangelist/Narrator: 7:30 – Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. 8:20 – He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
  • Jesus, to his disciples, before raising Lazarus from the dead: 11:9 – “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world.”
  • Jesus, to his disciples, after Andrew and Philip tell him that some Greeks wanted to see him: 12:23 – “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” 12:27 – “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.”
  • The Evangelist/narrator, beginning the "Book of Signs"; introducing the Washing of the Feet:13:1 – Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
  • Jesus, to his disciples, in the Last Supper Discourses: 16:2 – “They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.” 16:4 – “But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.” 16:21 – “When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world.” 16:25 [Jesus, to his disciples] – “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father.” 16:32 – “The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.”
  • Jesus, praying to his Father, at the end of the Last Supper Discourses: 17:1 – After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you.”
  • Jesus, just before his dies on the cross: 19:27 – Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

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