Recently I edited a paper about God’s glory and realized this would be a fitting topic for an Easter blog post. Glory has several meanings. When we speak of God’s glory we mean his intrinsic holiness, his majesty, splendor, beauty, transcendence. It is so overwhelming that Moses had to hide his face when God passed by him. In Scripture God’s glory is expressed by a burning bush, lightning, fire, and smoke. During a vision the prophet Isaiah heard angels proclaim, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; whole whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3).
The three favored apostles had a glimpse of the glory of God the Son on Mount Tabor. There Jesus appeared with a radiant face and dazzling white clothing. And Peter was so stunned he could only mutter, “Let’s build three tents and stay here.” When Jesus rose from the dead with a “glorified” body, Roman soldiers fainted away.
On the other hand, we can give God glory. We creatures are meant to glorify God, that is to praise him. As a child, I Ioved to belt out the sung “Gloria” from the Latin Mass. I recall swinging on a tire my dad had hung from a tree limb and singing, “Et in terra pax ominibus…” Little did I think then that this was a rehearsal for our destiny: to join the choirs in heaven who sing, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever.” (Revelation 7:12)
We give God glory by doing things in his honor, especially by living as he wishes us to live. In the words of St. Irenaeus, “The glory of God is human beings fully alive.” Do you remember the movie “Chariots of Fire?” In it Eric Liddell says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” In another place he says, “When we peel a potato and peel it to perfection, we praise God.” So we praise God on earth when we do things well: straighten a room, paint a picture, make a meal, listen to a friend.
We use glorious to describe something in the superlative as in a glorious sunset, a glorious concert. Someday we too will have glorified bodies—shining and perfect. Then we we behold the glory of God, the beatific vision. In the meantime, everything on earth shares in the glory of God. As the psalmist says, “The heavens are telling the glory of God.” (Psalm 19:1) We have a glimpse of this when we see a starlit sky, thundering ocean waves, a brilliant sunset, and a baby’s adorable smile.
I couldn’t locate a video of the powerful “Gloria” I loved to sing, but here is a lovely one:
• When have you glimpsed the glory of God on earth?