A Voice Came From Heaven
Fifth Sunday of Lent. Fr Edward Booth preaches on the glory of the Holy Trinity and of the humanity of Christ.
Our Lord’s words establish a direct relationship between the grain of wheat falling into the ground, seeming dead in itself and corrupting in the earth but finally bursting into new life, and his glorification as Son of Man. That is to say, the seemingly insignificant events in the cosmos are related to himself and his glorification, but in itself his glorification as Son of Man will exist eternally.
As the Word of God, he was single but not anonymous. Names do not apply to him in the sense that they apply to the other things in this world, because no name can express his simplicity and power.
The words of the Father are heard in answer to his prayer:
Father, glorify your name!
He can ask his Father to glorify his name, because only the Father comprehends him and can utter a significant expression by which he is adequately designated.
We are right to regard glory as a kind of intellectual light, whose nearest image is physical light. Saint Thomas takes over a definition of glory which at first seems to have little to do with a heavenly reality: ‘clear knowledge with praise.’ It is what is given to a great hero, who stands out, far above all other men, and receives great praise.
The glorification of the person of Christ in his physical body transcends the public praise given to an outstanding human hero. Yet there is a kind of continuity with it.
Heroes are praised for what they do in their human bodies. Christ is the great hero, who has consented that his human body should die like a grain of wheat has died, and that it should be placed in the earth, which is the place both of corruption and of fruitfulness.
Christ, as hero, consents to this total abasement of himself, but he takes up his life again completely, and the life and power which, in renewing itself from his divine power, renews the whole cosmos. It is so disposed that it will renew the life of all people, on the model and with the power with which it renews his own, because it adopts us as sons of God with him, who is Son of God by nature.
If God were single, it would be possible for him to receive the praise of the angels in their knowledge of Him, as also that of human beings. But he could not praise himself.
With our belief in a God who is also Three – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – it is possible that one person glorifies another person, gives him praise in the clear knowledge he has of the other, because his glorification is total just as his knowledge of the other is total. So each divine person gives himself totally in his praise of the others.
For just a moment, the Father reveals the reality of this praise for the sake of the disciples:
I have glorified you [from the beginning in your equal divinity], and I will glorify you again [in your ascension to your place in heaven in the human body which you took from a woman of the human race].
The sacred Trinity reveals itself to human beings; all the forces of darkness, diabolic and human, will be expelled from this world.
The reality had been grasped, but refracted and distorted because of human sin. Now it will be the reality accompanying mankind, closer than the presence of God to the Jewish people in the desert. One aspect of the commerce between heaven and earth, which will last until the end of time.
The other aspect corresponds with it and reciprocates it in order to make the union of heaven and earth complete. Christ, glorified as Son of God in his eternal begetting by the Father, glorified as the Son of Man in His ascension back into heaven after his heroic endurance of a passion of mind and body, which left no cell of that body unaffected, will, in this exaltation, draw all human beings to Himself.
The sanctuary of the Old Testament was entered only by the High Priest. Christ is the new High Priest of mankind, and he will bring all into his sanctuary, because all will have a priestly quality. Not just as a place of undisturbed repose, but as a place of absorption into this active glorification.
The saints of Christ enjoy it now, and that is the reason of their sanctity. But it is the final destiny of all believers in Christ.
Even the mode of his dying, exalted on a Cross, exhibits to believers the exaltation in glory which followed on his death as the supreme, completely self-effacing hero! Amen.