(Begin by reading the Gospel. Sometimes it is good to have someone read it to you. It is good to hear the Word of God.)
Continuing to celebrate the Resurrection on this fifth Sunday of Easter, we think more deeply about what Jesus' death means. The Gospel for this Sunday takes place at the Last Supper not long before Jesus dies.
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.
St. John records this Gospel passage many years after the Resurrection. He records it knowing perfectly well that Jesus' death on the cross is not the end of the story. The Resurrection, in fact, proclaims to all the world that death is not the end! Why, then, does St. John make a point of saying that Jesus "loved them to the end"? He seems to focus our attention both on Jesus' death and on his loving.
During the supper, when Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.
Jesus says "glorify" or "glorified" five times. It must be important. To glorify means to lift up, to make magnificent. It also means to reveal the splendour of God.
Judas has gone out to betray Jesus and Jesus lets him go. Jesus does not run away; he does not hide. He decides. Jesus commits to the will of God and this leads to the cross. He will be lifted up on the cross—lifted up, glorified. He gives all of himself to God for all of us—his whole life right to the end points to God. Jesus reveals the splendour of God because when he dies God fills Jesus with Risen Life at once. God is glorified and so, God glorifies Jesus in God. God is One.
Saying "glorify" over and over, Jesus makes it very clear: while the cross may be a horrible way to die, Jesus transforms suffering, he transforms death, he transforms sin—into the Glory of God. And how does he do that? By loving to the very end.
“Little children, I am with you only a little longer. I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
It is not enough that Jesus should be filled with Risen life.
It is not enough that Jesus is glorified in God.
It is not enough that Jesus loves to the end.
Jesus invites us into that loving. He invites us to love in the same way that he loves.
Love like Jesus loves? Give our whole self for others, to glorify God? Make our whole life point to God? Is this even possible? How can this be done?
It is no accident that we read Jesus' commandment to love shortly before the feast of Pentecost when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, for we cannot know how to love as Jesus loves without help. In the weeks before Pentecost, we can think about loving as Jesus loves, and we can pray to the Holy Spirit to come and show us how. Come, help us glorify God!