Attaining Our Ultimate Glory

Second Sunday of Lent

Gen 15: 5-12, 17-18; Phil 3: 17 – 4: 1; Luke 9: 28b-36

Dc. Larry Brockman

Glory.  What is Glory?  We talk about a glorious sunrise; we talk about people being in their glory.  But what do we mean.  Is glory incredible beauty?  Is it an ultimate state of happiness?  Is it both of these things and more?   

All three readings today address Glory- an other-worldly Glory.  First, Abram, soon to be Abraham, is cast into a deep trance, and, in the midst of a terrifying darkness, he senses the glory of the Lord passing between the animals he has prepared as smoking fire pots and a torch.  And in that trance, he hears the Lord make a covenant with him.  This sensing of the Glory of the Lord motivates Abram to believe- to believe the incredible promise of the covenant made to him that an old man with a barren old wife could be the Father of a nation as numerous as the stars in the sky, if he obeys the Lord, and goes on an exodus, a journey where he takes his family away from safety and prosperity, and goes to the land the Lord promises to him.  The vision of that promise became believable to him, as hard as it might be to believe- and it came true.   

In the Gospel, the Apostles John, Peter and James, witness Jesus in a transfigured state, along with “glorified” appearances of Moses and Elijah.  They are dumbfounded and don’t know what they are saying.  But it had a lasting impression on them, whatever they really saw.  It was an image and an impact that wasn’t fully appreciated until after the Resurrection of Christ; an image that predicted that Jesus would have to suffer and pass into his glory at the resurrection.  That’s what the exodus was that Jesus was foretold in the image- Jesus’ exodus, Jesus’ journey to fulfill the will of his Father.  And that exodus, that journey, involved suffering and self sacrifice.  That also came true, the suffering, death, and glorious resurrection of Jesus.  So, just as with Abram, the Apostles are blessed with an image of the Glory yet to come, the promise made to us all.   

Now in Paul’s letter, he talks about how our bodies will change into a glorious state to conform with the glorified body of Christ, if we can rightly claim our citizenship in Heaven.  How do we do that?  How do we catch sight of the glory in store for us, and change our lives to claim that citizenship in heaven? 

Paul tells us what we cannot do.  He tells us that many conduct their affairs as enemies of the Cross of Christ.  Their God is their stomach, and their glory is their shame.   

Now we are all human, and we have needs as humans.  These needs might be summed up as follows:  Oh that I was younger and stronger.  Oh that I would have comfort and no pain.  Oh that my hungers for the things of this world would be filled.  Then I would be happy; then I would be in my glory.  But the fact is, despite the human needs we have that need to be met to live this life, these are not the needs that define what life is about.  The fact is, in the end, they are not what real life is about at all.  Because when we die, these wants, these needs, pass away along with our mortal bodies.  And so we should be seeking other things during our life.  We need visions of our future glory so that we might seek after them, just as Abram and the Apostles did. 

What can these things possibly be?  Can we have visions of the glory that God has in mind for us?  I would like to suggest that we can.  I think that all of us are given experiences- dreams, visions, life experiences, in which we catch a glimpse of the glory meant for us.  But it is not in the fulfillment of our bodily or worldly needs.  Rather, it is our appreciation of God’s creation, appreciation of each other when others do things for us; and the feeling of happiness we feel over successful efforts we make to help others.  It comes in our visions of what can be, when we apply ourselves, even in a small way, to solving the problems in the world.  And, for some, deep in their prayer life, it comes from glorious visions of things to come for them who live life jst the way God has given it to us, no matter how difficult and painful that is and yet, still believe in Jesus and the Glory he promises.  I believe that we can sense that ultimate glory, a glory where we are with our Father in heaven and our loved ones, at peace, with no more pain, no more concerns, no more wants.  But just peace and love. 

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