Some have accused the writers of old-school Top 40 songs of using the word “baby” whenever they ran out of words or ideas. I think you could make the same accusation of Christian music writers of their wild overuse of the word “glory.” It seems whenever modern Christian lyricists want to make a vague mention of God’s general goodness, they tend to lean heavily on God’s “glory.”
Though we may sing of God’s glory regularly, what are we even saying?
In the gospel this Sunday, Jesus uses the word glory, in one form or another, five times in two short sentences. Take that Chris Tomlin.
What is Jesus talking about when he says, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”?
Glory is great honor or renown, brilliance or great beauty. In other words, Glory is something worthy of wow. Of course, for God, what is worthy of honor or renown is not what we humans tend to recognize.
Jesus is glorified and glorifies the Father, not in his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, but in his degrading death on the cross. Jesus is glorified at the very moment that he is lowest by human standards. Jesus is brightest, at his darkest.
The gospel quickly pivots from Jesus and God’s glory to Jesus writing a new commandment: love one another. Why? What’s the connection between Glory and Love?
True Love – self sacrificing, death on a cross kind of love – is maybe the only thing worthy of renown. True love glows with brilliance. Anyone who has seen a new parent hold their newborn infant, when that parent comes to realize they would happily give their life for this squirmy little thing, understands that love is brilliant and beautiful and glorious.
Vainglory is selfish. Vainglory is seeking renown from anyone who will give “likes” to anything. Vainglory calls the truly ugly, beautiful. Vainglory serves the one who seeks it.
Glory is the byproduct of self-gift, true love, self sacrifice.
We give God glory by recognizing his great gift of love, by worshiping him with our words and hearts, and by living our life according to his great commandment – Love one another.
Live It: Try to Worship at Mass this Sunday. Seriously. Close your eyes and pray, “Glory to you, my God.” As many times as it takes.