Seventh Sunday of Easter • Year A

George F. Riley, O.S.A.
1935 – 2022

Acts 1:12-14
Ps 27:1, 4, 7-8
1 Pt 4:13-16
Jn 17:1-11a

The life of Jesus had a climax and that was the Cross. To him, the Cross the way to the glory of eternity. “The hour has come,” he said, “for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23). What did Jesus mean when he repeatedly spoke of the Cross as his glory and his glorification?

First, it is one of the facts of history that again and again it was in death that the great ones found their glory. Abraham Lincoln had numerous enemies during his lifetime, but even those who had criticized him saw his greatness when he died. Someone came out of the room where Lincoln lay after the assassin’s shot had killed him, saying: “Now he belongs to the ages.” Edwin Stanton, his war minister, had always regarded Lincoln as crude and uncouth and had taken no pains to conceal his contempt. He looked down at the dead president with tears in his eyes. “There lies,” he said, “the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen.”

Joan of Arc was burned as a witch and a heretic by the English. One of the secretaries of the King of England left the scene saying, “We are all lost because we have burned a saint.”

Again and again, a martyr’s majesty has appeared in death. It was so with Jesus, as the centurion at the foot of the Cross saw so clearly: “Truly this was the Son of God.”

The Cross was the glory of Jesus because it was the completion of his work. “Father, I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.” For Christ to have stopped short of the Cross would have been to leave his task uncompleted. By going to the Cross, Jesus showed that there was literally no limit to the demands of discipleship. By this, we recognize that our discipleship is based on the fact that Jesus came forth from God; our discipleship is entirely a matter of imitation of the Word made flesh; our discipleship has no limits. The disciple is the man who is commissioned to a lifelong task. Jesus’ obedience included the Cross.

Golgotha was not an accident, a misstep, an unforeseen catastrophe. So, too, we are disciples through suffering and unto death. That we suffer is inevitable, for we bear a message that the world hates. How we suffer must be in the manner of a disciple: “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer. But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.”

Today’s gospel tells us what Jesus asked his Father for us. He prays for his men in order that they may be such as to win the world for him. Jesus did not pray that his disciples should be taken out of this world. He never prayed that they might find escape. He prayed that they might find victory. Christianity was never meant to withdraw a man from life, but to equip him better for it. It does not offer us a life in which troubles are escaped and evaded, but a life in which troubles are faced and conquered.

We are not to be weak, bobbing along with every cultural current that proclaims that happiness can be found in acquisition and perversion, a life without moderation and self-examination. We are not to be reeds swayed by the prevailing winds, “Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.”