Sunday the 6th Week of Easter
(Acs 15: 1 – 2, 22 – 29; Ps 67; Rev 21: 10 – 14, 22 – 23; John 14: 23 – 29)
In the reading from Revelation, St. John writes of a tremendous vision of the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. His account is striking, he writes: “It gleamed with the splendor of God.” John is captivated, held, embraced by this splendor – the word “splendor” is a Latin word and it means “brilliance, brightness, lustre – it carries with it the notion of extravagance – it connotes something extremely abundant, something unrestrained. St. John recounts for us all the visible aspects of this splendor – precious stones, massive walls, twelve gates – but when all is said and done, such divine splendor exceeds any word and every description. What he sees is really beyond words.
We believe the splendor of God in human flesh is the Lord Jesus Christ and He reveals that splendor, that brilliance in His words to His disciples, to us: “Whoever loves Me will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and we will come to Him and make our dwelling with him.” What an awesome, splendid truth
– when we try to live our journey of faith in obedience and love – keeping His word and loving our God and neighbor in thought, word, and deed – our lives receive and express something of His splendor, His very self. We live, caught up in God’s love, held in His embrace.
In the daily nitty-gritty of each day, the Lord Jesus, in a most personal way, says this is what must mark us, what must fill us, what must come forth – love and obedience – both are graces, splendid gifts of our God to each of us. Gifts that lift us up to Him so that we are, in reality, in truth, His own, His sons and daughters, His beloved.
We receive these gifts of love and obedience in opening our hearts to His word as we do in this holy Mass – as we open our depths to the Lord in Communion here in this Mass. We, in all our humanness, are embraced by the Lord’s splendor contained in the Sacred Word, hidden in the Host and Chalice – constrained in bread and wine – so our experience of the divine is not less than that of St. John
– different but no less real.
Here, as we gather in faith – in love and obedience, it is impossible for us not to experience God’s splendor unless, God forbid, we are totally closed- God’s dwells in a brilliance, a light we hope to see face to face one day – but already in
this life our God shares that brilliance with us – Jesus said it, “I have come that you may have life in abundance – beginning now.
In John’s vision, there is an important lesson for our own lives, a clue – a way to recognize the splendor of God’s grace personally. Although St John did not see God face to face, he did see things that spoke of the reality of God’s splendor – so for us. What does God’s splendor look like in us, how does it appear:
When we believe in Him even in darkness When we extend mercy to another
When forgiveness is graciously given When we stretch to understand someone When we go the extra mile in charity When we hold onto hope no matter what
These are not some vague, abstract thoughts – rather, true splendid signs that you/ I have received, do receive God’s fearful, majestic splendor – given abundantly, in fact, wasted on us in extravagance.
Do you, do I believe this, hold this to be true, real? Hopefully, we can say our “yes” – but we also know that in our humanness we need to pray, “Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief!”