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Receiving Glory

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 22, 2010

I stumbled over a particularly disturbing passage in St. John’s Gospel the other night (no, I do not go looking for these things). Christ was debating with his Jewish critics and faulting them for their lack of Faith. And then He told them exactly why they lacked faith. Here is what He said:

How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? (Jn 5:44)

This is directed to all of us, and even a moment’s reflection enables us to realize how true it is. All around us, the people who persistently refuse to accept God are almost invariably seeking their glory somewhere else. They wish to be thought well of by those who represent the world and what the world has to offer. They have set their hearts on social acceptance, or career success, or wealth, or a good reputation with the right people. They seek the esteem of Those Who Matter. In other words, they are primarily interested in receiving “glory from one another”.

We encounter this spiritual shallowness constantly; though it is dangerous to make particular judgments, the syndrome is seldom hard to spot. How sad, then, that we so often exhibit the same symptoms in ourselves as well! How frequently do we lose our focus on the presence of God, seeking after and worrying over this or that worldly thing or this or that worldly approval. Are we not mightily distracted? Have we not come to rely on such things as signs of personal validation? Even though we may be sincere Christians in our better moods, we still fail to realize how much the pursuit of these vanities actually weakens our faith and lessens its power. Whether through material goods or personal pleasure or social satisfaction, we too are often busy receiving “glory from one another.”

Instead, we ought to be seeking “the glory that comes from the only God.” Perhaps that is something to think about this Christmas. We may hear ourselves saying “Lord, Lord,” but that sweet sound will avail us nothing if we are not determined to seek glory at its Source. We must learn anew to subordinate and refer all human glories to God, so that we might magnify that very glory which He so much desires to share. What so often weakens this effort is our failure to realize how important this is to Faith itself. Yet Our Lord knows it only too well. And so He asks the same question of each one: How else can you believe?

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: FredC - Aug. 22, 2017 2:24 PM ET USA

    Suggestion: Comment at each public hearing to teach Natural Law to the political leaders and the audience. You will need to attend several of the meetings with the same politicians and the same audience, so break the lessons into 3-minute presentations.

  • Posted by: claude-ccc2991 - Aug. 19, 2017 3:33 PM ET USA

    Terrific point that those who advocate "post-birth supremacy" (pro-abortion) don't really know why they oppose the evil white supremacy thesis. As you say, that doesn't mean that we don't oppose white supremacy while they figure it out. What it means is that opposition to white supremacy not based on Natural Law will take gravely immoral forms, creating other evils even as it confronts the white supremacy evil, such as tribalism that justifies murder, hatred based on identity politics, etc.

  • Posted by: Retired01 - Aug. 19, 2017 11:29 AM ET USA

    I was born in Cuba and suffered the evils of Communism. Communism has been responsible for the death of millions of innocent people. I, however, believe that they have the right to have peaceful rallies in democratic societies. Thus, I believe that white supremacists and other radical groups such as National Socialists and Islamic radicals have the same right to peaceful rallies. What they do not have the right to is to use violence.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Aug. 19, 2017 10:56 AM ET USA

    Exactly right. There is another dimension to pursue here, and that is the distinction between SIGN, SYMBOL (and SACRAMENT, for Christians). A statue is a sign. If it is also a symbol (a statue of R.E. Lee, for instance), what is it a symbol of? That is an equivocal relationship. For me, it is a symbol of mankind faced with dilemma--Robert E. Lee offered command of all Union armies and knowing Virginia has his primary allegiance. For others, not so. This needs major discussion.

  • Posted by: brenda22890 - Aug. 19, 2017 7:01 AM ET USA

    Jeff, I believe that John Horvat II, in the Crisis Magazine article, "A Clash of False Alternatives", describes the travesty very well. Your comments are well taken, but again, fail to point out that hatred from one side will never justify hatred from the other...

  • Posted by: Dennis Olden - Aug. 18, 2017 7:14 PM ET USA