"The Spirit of truth glorifies me" (John 16:14, Trinity Sunday).
"Glory to God" is a phrase used so often by believers that it has lost its original meaning. The word doxa en everyday Greek at the time of Jesus signified the quality of someone who demanded the respect of others, or the reputation or good name of an individual. When it is applied to God, it represents that which makes God God: His divinity, his holiness, his compassion, etc. In saying, "glory to God" we give nothing to God more than the acknowledgement that He is God.
The readings for liturgy in this period speak of the glorification of Jesus, his return to the glory of God that he had relinquished in the Incarnation: "He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness" (Philippians 2:6-7). The glorification of Jesus is a theological concept that explains and recalls the events of the Easter mystery: the passion, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
Jesus shared the glory of God after the Incarnation: "And I have given them the glory you gave me" (John 17:22, VII Sunday of Easter). While he was in the world, he revealed this glory: "I wish that … (the disciples) may see my glory that you gave me" (John 17:24, VII Sunday of Easter). He promised that the Holy Spirit would reveal his full glory: "He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:14, Trinity Sunday). In the Ascension, Jesus returned to have the glory of God that he had from the beginning. "The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things" (Ephesians 4:10, Ascension). After the Ascension, he was in the glory of God. "(Stephen) looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55, VII Sunday of Easter). He promised to send to his disciples the Holy Spirit once he was glorified. "He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified" (John 7:39, the vigil of Pentecost). After Pentecost, we in the faith participate in the glory of God: Through Jesus "we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:2, Holy Trinity).
So that they did not remain astonished participating in the glory of God, the angels awakened the disciples at the Ascension. "Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?" (Acts 1:11, Ascension). Jesus in his final instructions said, "that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations" (Luke 24:47, Ascension).
Thus the glory of God must be proclaimed through the example of our lives of compassion for others.
Father Tracy is sacramental minister at St. Michael and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Churches in Rochester.