5th Sunday of Easter


Last Sunday at this time we were outdoors, enjoying a mountain pasture with our Good Shepherd ; the Sunday before that we were having breakfast on the beach with Jesus, marveling at all those fish. In fact, for the last four Sundays, starting with Easter itself, we’ve been out in the light, and it’s been wonderful. Alleluias have lifted us up and held us high as we’ve celebrated the glory of the Risen Lord. Suddenly, however, here we are, transported back to Holy Week, to nighttime, to a small room in Jerusalem, to the final hours before the Passion begins. Why are we here ? Why ? Listen. 

Judas has just departed, taking with him the morsel, the money, and his plan. The wheels of betrayal are being set in motion even as the meal continues. Yet listen to Jesus, who must know what is about to happen. He says, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” Hear him and understand : This is where Easter begins. In this ordinary little room, surrounded by these men so much like us, and soon to be betrayed by another man who is much too much like us, Jesus speaks of glory. His words make it clear : Easter starts here. It is going to come out his Passion, out of the agony in the Garden, out of the show trials, the brutality in the Praetorium, the unspeakable execution, and the sorrowful burial. He is glorified in his acceptance of suffering and death, glorified in his emptying himself of all “glory” as we understand the word. This is a hard saying, but one that could console us if we would let it. For we see that glory is not about “winning,” and that glorification is not something we earn for ourselves. Like everything else in our relationship with God, it is given. Even Jesus says that he is glorified, not that he has glorified himself. So that’s part of what he means by “glory” ; there’s something more as well.

Just a few minutes earlier, Jesus had washed the feet of the disciples and told them that he’d done it so that they could follow his example. Washing of the feet was to be a sign of what he speaks of now : “I give you a new commandment : Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” So love, too, is part of his glory. When he says : “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” he is saying that love will show that they belong to him, and that he wants the whole world to know that they do. Because he loves them, he wants them identified as his. So Jesus invites these friends, these utterly ordinary people, into the glory of both his Passion and Resurrection. He offers them the Way to enter that glory : himself, that is, Love. And of course, when he offers that love to the Eleven, he is also offering it to us.

One of Jesus’ good friends, our own Saint Marie Eugenie, liked to say : “Love never says, ‘I have done enough,’” and we know from our Easter experience how right she was. Love is always washing our feet, always making room for us at the table, always dying and rising for us, always inviting us to become Love ourselves. Love is always pointing toward the glory that never stops loving. Marie Eugenie is a saint because she heeded Love’s invitation to be glorified ; is there anything stopping us from doing the same ?

Sr. Nuala Cotter
Worcester - USA

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