Every unhappy soul in the world has a cross embedded in it. The cross was never meant to be on the inside, but only on the outside. When the Israelites were bitten by the serpents, and the poison seeped within, Moses planted a brazen serpent on a stick and all who looked on it were healed…. So the Son of Man came in the likeness of man, but was without sin, and all who look upon him on his cross are saved. In like manner, the inner cross disappears when one catches a vision of the great outer Cross on Calvary.
Fulton J. Sheen Peace of Soul
The last twelve months have seen plenty of glory in the media and the world around us: we’ve had triumphs in the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, even Swansea City have won a cup! There has been much in human endeavour to celebrate, but when we turn to today’s Gospel we hear Our Lord speaking: ‘Now is the Son of Man gloriﬁed, and God is gloriﬁed in him. If God is gloriﬁed in him, God will also glorify him in himself and glorify him at once.’ These words are spoken by Our Lord just after Judas has left to go and betray him. It’s a pretty funny idea of glory, certainly compared to how the world understands glory. As the servant spoken of by the prophet Isaiah in today’s ﬁrst reading, his mouth is like a sharp sword, he is made a polished arrow, with a sharpness that can cut through the indiﬀerence and ignorance of the world. He is the light of the nations, a light which the darkness cannot overcome, which shines so that God’s salvation may reach to the end of the earth. The Church has its part to play in helping this to come about, but the work is Christ’s: he is the way, the truth, and the life.
The glory of which Christ speaks is that of his Passion and Death. Unlike the bronze serpent which cured the Israelites, Jesus will be lifted up to save all humanity, to restore their relationship with God and each other, to give them eternal life. Worldly glory, like the shouts of joy on Palm Sunday, is a passing thing. True glory, the glory of God, who is the source of all glory, is something quite diﬀerent. In the Prologue to John’s Gospel, read on Christmas day, we hear ‘And the Word became ﬂesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.’ (Jn 1:14 ESV) We behold God’s glory in Christ not just in his Incarnation, but most fully in his Passion, and Death, and Resurrection.
Today’s gospel has Our Lord at Supper with his disciples. He gives the morsel to Judas: a sign of honour, a sign of love which defies our understanding. It ends with a sign that to follow Jesus is to carry our own cross and go to Calvary. It’s quite stark, quite uncompromising, and quite true. The Church is called to imitate the mystery which it celebrates: it is costly and diﬃcult. To follow Christ means to go to the Cross, because only here can we see the depth of God’s love for us.
Here we see love: true, unconstrained, given regardless of the cost. Only through such free love can the wounds of the world be healed: this is the balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul. This is true glory: the glory of God’s reconciling and healing love poured out on the world as it flows like blood and water from his stricken side. So let us come to him, to be fed by Him, and with Him, healed and restored by Him, through the sacraments of the Church, his body, so that we may be prepared to celebrate with joy the triumph of His Paschal victory, so that we and all the earth may give praise to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, to whom be ascribed as is most right and just, all might, majesty, glory dominion and power, now and forever