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Sunday Scripture: The road to glory

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

By Terrance Callan

Fifth Sunday of Easter: Acts 14:21-27; Rev 21:1-5; John 13:31-33, 34-35

It is often necessary to endure difficulties in order to reach some goal. We need to practice if we want to master physical and mental skills. We must work patiently to grow plants or create programs. And just as Jesus suffered and died before entering into glory, so we, His followers, must undergo trials before joining Him fully in resurrection life.
 
The reading from the Gospel according to John reports words of Jesus spoken at the Last Supper. Immediately after Judas left to betray Him, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified.”

The departure of Judas set in motion the sequence of events that would result in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
 
Jesus’ death is so much a part of His glorification that Jesus says He has been glorified when Judas leaves to betray Him. In themselves betrayal, suffering and crucifixion are not glorious. They are the opposite of glorious. But because they lead to Jesus’ resurrection and return to the Father in heaven, they can be seen as part of Jesus’ glorification.
 
Jesus’ glorification also means departure from His disciples when Jesus returns to the Father. Before He departed, Jesus gave a new commandment: “Love one another. Such as my love has been for you, so must your love be for each other.” Jesus showed His and the Father’s love for us by embracing suffering and death in order to enter into glory. Jesus commands us to love one another in the same way.

The reading from the Acts of the Apostles summarizes some of the missionary activity of Paul and Barnabas. After they proclaimed the good news in Derbe, they revisited Lystra, Iconium and Pisidian Antioch, where they had earlier proclaimed the good news. After preaching in Perga, they returned to Syrian Antioch, from which they had set out on this missionary journey about a year earlier. There Paul and Barnabas reported on the success of their mission. As they made their way back to Syrian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas gave the disciples they had made this instruction:  “We must undergo many trials if we are to enter into the reign of God.”

The reading from the Book of Revelation offers us a vision of the glory we will know at the end of time. At the end, heaven and earth will pass away and be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth. Only then will our participation in the sufferings of Jesus come to an end. As long as the present heaven and earth endure, the road to glory will pass through the cross. But in the end, God will renew all things, and we will know pure glory.

In the new heaven and earth there will also be a new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem will come from heaven to earth, “beautiful as a bride prepared to meet her husband.” This will be the dwelling of God with us. God will be with us forever and will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain, for the former world will have passed away.
 
Let us keep this vision before our eyes as we die with Jesus in order to rise with Him into this glory.

Callan is a faculty member at the Athenaeum of Ohio. 

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