Grace to you!
Irenaeus, a second century saint gave to the Church one of the most celebrated lines in Christian history. He said: “Gloria Dei est vivens homo.” The quotation has been popularly translated, as “the glory of God is man fully alive.” But the literal meaning is “the glory of God is living man.” Of course, you know man here refers to women as well.
If you take the first translation as your point of reflection, you could come to some conclusions about your place, our place in God’s plan. God’s glory is you and me, fully alive?
The prophesy of Isaiah says that it’s living persons who praise God, for “death cannot praise God” (Isaiah 38:18-19). Saint Paul says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
From the Lord who is the Spirit, we become fully alive.
If you take the second translation–the glory of God is living man–you see that the living person is a unique manifestation of God. Saint James wonders how any person would say he or she loves God that can’t be seen when the neighbor that can be seen isn’t loved (see I John 4:20).
The idea is, in part, that human persons are relational ways of loving God since we are made in the image and likeness of God. We see God’s face and smiles in one another.
In both cases of the above famous quotation, you realize we draw our true identity, our fullest life of joy and happiness from the glory of God. The manifestation of God’s glory is the vivification of the human person.
I don’t know if you have been down before, broken and in despair. Then came the power of God’s grace and the glory of His presence, which you encountered through good people, through worship and the word of God, and often through the Eucharist. You saw how your downcast heart was enlivened with joy, and your despair was lifted by the glimpse of God’s glory.
The worship of God has a way of enlivening us. We worship God, not because it adds to His glory, but that it makes us alive. The worship of God is the flourishing of the worshipper with that glow from God’s glory shining on our face, penetrating deep down into our spirit.
Therefore, we see that when we reciprocate God’s love for us, our disposition wouldn’t be about entitlement of what God can do for us, but what we have become in God. Our response would be similar to what Jesus tells us in Scripture: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Luke 17:10).
God isn’t increased by our worship; nor is God diminished by our lack of worship. It’s we who truly become alive, glowing with the heavenly radiance of the joy of redemption.
May the face of Christ shine on us as we place all our hope in God. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.