On the glory of God                 (E.J.Tyler)

1. There is one only God  

The first of the ten commandments is the basic one and it is the foundation of the rest. It states that the only god is the Lord God, and that we are not to consider anything else to be God but the Lord God. On this basis the other commandments are given. The commandments were given to Moses some 3200 years ago during the journey of the children of Israel out of Egypt to the promised land. They had dwelt in Egypt for some 400 years, the Bible tells us, and so they were very familiar with the many gods of the Egyptians, and with the worship of many gods which was normal in the religious life of ancient cultures. It was most unusual for a nation to believe in only one God from whom everything was considered to have come. Such a belief attributed all glory to him. In the polytheism of the ancient world the numerous gods each had their own sphere of influence, their own story and their own devotees. The stories and myths of the gods portrayed their limited and varied glory, but in the belief of Israel, shaped by what had been revealed to them, all glory was due to the one God alone. This was extremely distinctive.

2. The glory of God     

What do we mean when we refer to the glory of God? Considering the word “glory”, when we refer to a glorious view or a glorious building or a glorious work of art, we think of the splendour of its beauty, or the marvel of its goodness, or perhaps its great genuineness or truth. A movie or a novel may have a genuineness about it, a great ring of truth. And so we might say that it was a glorious novel or movie. When we refer to the glory of something in our experience we refer in general to its beauty, its goodness and even its truth. The glory of something is its perfection. Well, so too with God but with God the glory is unlimited. In referring to the glory of God we are referring to the excellence of his infinite being, the perfection of his beauty, his goodness and his truth. We are extolling the greatness and his perfection, infinite in every way. We must not try to imagine God’s infinity because we will do so in terms of material vastness, and any material vastness will necessarily be limited. No, to assert God’s infinity is, rather, to deny he has limits. The being of God has no limits. His glory is without limit because everything about him is unlimited in its richness.

3. The glory of the Trinity    

A question we could ask ourselves is, from all eternity to whom was the glory of God manifest? Well, it was from all eternity manifest to himself. While we human beings are able to be unaware of our dignity and the glory of our human nature (limited though it is), God himself from all eternity perceives the infinity of his being and his glory. Now, this is one reason why the doctrine of the Trinity is so revealing. God from all eternity knows the glory of his nature entirely, and this knowledge of himself, this (as it were) image he has of himself, this absolutely perfect likeness of his nature which constitutes his awareness of his own glory, is from all eternity a Person, the Person of his only-begotten Son. The Son is the Word that embodies and expresses the Father’s glory. He is the image of the eternal Father, and the splendour of the Father’s being. The Son in turn acknowledges that all glory, the glory of God that he is, comes from and is due to the Father. In turn, the Father’s being and with it his glory is entirely given to the Son. The Father gives glory to the Son and the Son gives glory to the Father. This reciprocal sharing of being and life one to the other is their life of love, and this love is itself a divine Person, the Holy Spirit. The glory of God is God’s very being and life, and that life is love, for St John tells us in one of his Letters that God is love. Now, inasmuch as the Holy Spirit is the love of God, the Holy Spirit is the living fountain of the glory of God. The Holy Spirit is the love whereby within the Trinity God is glorified, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit we too are able to give glory to God.

4. The glory of the Son made Man    

So then, each of the three divine Persons possesses the divine glory. When the Word was made flesh, the glory proper to him as God remained with him but normally hidden. At the beginning of his Gospel St John writes that “The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” For those who came to know him and to believe that the Father had sent him, the beauty, goodness and truth of Christ was manifest. St John was able to say that from his fulness we have, all of us, received. He then tells us how John the Baptist and the first disciples came to recognize the glory of Jesus and who he really was. St John the Baptist bore witness that he was “the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” the one who is coming after, who ranks before, because he existed before. He is the Chosen One of God. We read how Andrew, one of John’s disciples, declared to his brother Simon Peter that he had found the Messiah. Nathanael soon after stated to our Lord that he was the son of God, the king of Israel - in other words, he very quickly recognized the glory of Jesus. St John tells us that in the wedding feast of Cana when our Lord changed the water into wine, he let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him. By his miracles our Lord made his glory more manifest. At the Last Supper our Lord raises his eyes to heaven and asks that the Father glorify his Son, now that the hour has come. The purpose of this will be that the Son may give glory to the Father. The Son’s mission has been to glorify the Father, and he did this by fulfilling the work he had come to do. He now asks that the Father glorify him with that glory he had with him before ever the world was. Let us notice that our Lord in his prayer to the Father prays also for his disciples. He prays that they will be one in the Father and the Son, just as the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father. He is giving to his disciples, the Church, a share in the life of God and thus he tells his Father that he has given to them a share in the glory he had received from the Father. So our final end will be a share in the glory of God, and this share in his glory begins now in this life with our baptism. Our Lord was glorified in his resurrection and ascension, and we shall be glorified with him if we live and die with him.

5. Giving glory to the triune God     

The centre of everything is God and his infinite glory. God is the Father, and God is the Son and God is the Holy Spirit. For this reason the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit each  possess the infinite glory of God, and we remember how in the Creed each Sunday we say of the Holy Spirit that together with the Father and the Son he is adored and glorified. Every Sunday too we sing the Gloria, during which we give glory to God in the highest. We worship, thank and praise the Father for his glory. We praise the Son who has saved us and who is seated at the right hand of the Father. He is the Lord, the Holy One, the Most High, together with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Inasmuch as the Father gives constant glory to the Son, and the Son gives constant glory to the Father, and the Holy Spirit gives glory to both, we too ought be more and more filled with the thought of the glory of God and intent on living in such a way that God will be honoured and glorified. Our whole life ought be given over to the glory of God. St Ignatius had a motto for the Christian life which has become part of the general spiritual patrimony of the Church. His motto was, Ad Maioram Dei Gloriam, which translated is, For the greater glory of God. His point was that not only ought we choose that which serves the glory of God, but we ought go on to choose that which serves his greater glory. It is a motto which urges us on to be more than ordinarily generous. It urges us on to be like our Lord whose life gave perfect glory to God. In this way we shall be drawn into the life of the Blessed Trinity and living here on earth a life that shares in theirs, given over to the glory of God.

6. All for the glory of God    

So then, all glory is due to God the holy Trinity, and anything that is good or beautiful or genuine possessed by any creature has its origin in him. So all glory is due to him. This should be the motive force for our daily life, that God will be given all the glory. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the One Triune God is the source and fullness of being, and without him we are nothing. With him we have so many blessings, but the glory of this is not due to us, it is due to God. And so any vainglory we might have, any pride in ourselves, is empty. It is worse than that, it is robbing God of the glory that is due to him. Being the fallen creatures that we are we have a profound and very inordinate tendency to appropriate that glory for ourselves. This is exactly the tendency which characterizes Satan. It will not bring us happiness. It is a delusion, but this is our fallen tendency and we must fight against it by seeking to grow in the opposite virtue which is humility. Humility is a recognition that of ourselves we are nothing. The humble person delights in seeing God glorified, and he resolutely prefers to be in the lower place because of his awareness of his nothingness apart from God.

7. Living so that glory is given to God     

Pride can easily enter into our spiritual ambitions. We have a natural desire to grow in the perfection proper to our nature, and even in the religious realm of our divine calling to love God with all our heart, pride can be present there too. We remember how the mother of the sons of Zebedee, James and John, approached our Lord with her two sons, and with them asked that her two sons be given places at his right and left in his kingdom. Our Lord said they did not know what they were asking. They wanted positions of glory. It reminds us that even our spiritual ambitions can be rather self-centred and concerned for our own glory more than God’s. St Ignatius offers a great prayer of self-oblation during his Spiritual Exercises. In the prayer the person invites God to take all, and asks only that he give to him his love and his grace. We ought ask God to give us the grace to know his love for us and to be able to love him totally so that he may be glorified.

8. Purity of intention in everything    

 If we are to achieve our aim of giving glory to God in everything, we have to strive for purity of intention. That is to say, we ought do what we should be doing, but strive to do it for the right reason. There are two ways we can fail here. Firstly, we can avoid doing what God wants us to do by doing things that are just more gratifying. A husband who has a family and a business neglects his business because he prefers to be playing bowls. What he is doing is not furthering the glory of God because God is glorified when we do his will and his will is that we fulfil our responsibilities well. On the other hand we may well be fulfilling our responsibilities but for the wrong reasons. A husband could be working hard at his business but simply in order to make more money for his own gratification or worldly ambition for his family. God and his glory may have nothing to do with it. We ought be continually correcting the basic reason why we do things, the intention behind our actions, our intention in the little things of everyday life, our little duties. We ought be doing them well, and our reason for doing them should be for God’s glory. Notice what St Joemaria Escriva says about doing things for the right motive. He says: “Rectify, purify your intention! How tragic if your victory were to be rendered worthless by your having acted for human motives!” And again, his next point in his book The Way, he writes: “Purity of intention. The suggestions of pride and the impulses of the flesh are not difficult to recognize .... and you fight and, with grace you conquer. But the motives that inspire you, even in the holiest actions, do not seem clear; and deep down inside you hear a voice which makes you see human reasons in such a subtle way that your soul is invaded by the disturbing thought that you don’t act as you should - for pure Love, solely and exclusively to give God all his glory. React at once each time and say: ‘Lord, for myself I want nothing. All for your glory and for Love.’” (788).

9. To God be all the glory    

So then let us strive to give God all the glory and to do everything in such a way that he will be honoured and glorified the more. We ought constantly thank God for what he has done and permitted, including the difficult things that have happened to us. He knows best, and if he has permitted something to happen that has caused suffering, let us give thanks to him for his mysterious providence, praying that what happened in some way will add to his glory. If something has happened that humiliated us, let us accept humbly that humiliation in union with our Lord’s humiliations and ask that just as the Cross of Christ gave glory to God, so too may our crosses give glory to God. They will if they are carried in union with our Lord. And in everything, let us strive to purify our intention. As St Josemaria Escriva says again in The Way, “You must indeed have purified your intention well when you said: from this moment on I renounced all human gratitude and reward.” Let us pray for the grace to renounce glory that may come to us, and that this praise, thanks and glory be given to God instead.

10. Glory be    

I invite you to make one of your favourite prayers the prayer we always say at the end of each decade of the Rosary: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end. We ought live every day for the glory of God and renounce the deep tendency we have to do all for our own glory and to appropriate for ourselves glory that is not ours at all. Let us unite with Mary and all the saints in living for the glory and the honour of God.
   Heaven consists in giving glory to God, while Hell consists in refusing glory to him.