for the greater glory of God

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, established the Society of Jesus upon the spiritual philosophy “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam inque hominum salutem”, that is “for the greater glory of God and the salvation of humanity.” The motto of the Society is an abbreviated form of that phrase “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam” or “For the greater glory of God.” Surely words to preface the beginning of every day, for all of us, not just for Jesuits.

And yet, we think, what might I do that would be worthy of his glory, for I am nothing special? We see ourselves as ordinary persons, going about our ordinary lives doing ordinary things. Where is the glory in that?

For the greater glory of God

For the greater glory of God

But we forget…we forget that God chose ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.

We forget that Jesus chose twelve ordinary men to be the first apostles. We forget that God chose an ordinary young woman to bear his Son and to become the mother of God. We forget that Jesus was known as the son of a ordinary carpenter and became a tradesman himself, just an ordinary man in an ordinary small town. We forget that Jesus surrounded himself with ordinary people, that his disciples and followers were ordinary people living ordinary lives.

Luke tells us that when Jesus returned to Nazareth, the town where he had grown up, he went to the synagogue on a Sabbath and after reading a passage from the prophet Isaiah proclaimed “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”[1] Those who were present in the synagogue were people who knew him, had watched him grow up, most likely had benefitted from his skills as a carpenter, knew his family, and may have even been his family. Ordinary people living ordinary lives.

Saint Paul tells us “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. Now the body is not a single part, but many. You are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.[2]

He further points out that everyone has a part to play, that no one is expendable or unnecessary; rather he tells us that “Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”[3]

It is not that we are ordinary and can only accomplish ordinary things but that we accomplish ordinary things for the greater glory of God. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta worked among and for the poorest of the poor, the unwanted and untouchable, the weakest parts of the body of Christ and therefore as Saint Paul tells us, all the more necessary, worthy of greater honor and greater propriety. Mother Teresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” And isn’t that the essence of what it means to do something “for the greater glory of God?

In order for us to dedicate all that we do for the greater glory of God we must of course have faith in Him and in His Son. Many may say they believe in God and Jesus Christ but far too many wear their faith on their sleeves, only for public consumption, rather than for the glory of His name.

Saint Augustine of Hippo once remarked: “It is by faith that we touch Jesus. And far better to touch him by faith than to touch or handle him with the hands only and not by faith. It was no great thing to merely touch him manually. Even his oppressors doubtless touched him when they apprehended him, bound him, and crucified him, but by their ill-motivated touch they lost precisely what they were laying hold of. O worldwide church! It is by touching him faithfully that your ‘faith has made you whole’[4] And I might add, it is by and with faith that you do all things for the greater glory of God.

Jesus chose twelve very ordinary men to be his apostles, non-professionals who had no wealth or position. They were people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages. Jesus chose these men, not for what or who they were, but for what and who they might become.

We tend to think of an apostle as someone special, perhaps a bishop, a cardinal, or even a pope, but the truth is that “apostle” simply and quite literally means “one who is sent.” As members of the Body of Christ we are all called to be “apostles,” sent to evangelize, to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. As Catholics we all too often shudder and balk at the thought of evangelizing for we have this image of one who goes door to door, preaching and proselytizing, quoting chapter and verse from the Bible. But that is not what we are called to do; no, not at all.

As that marvelously holy deacon, Saint Francis of Assisi wrote: “Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds[5] and so should we all. This returns us to the beginning, where we offer everything we do for the greater glory of God.

It is neither the eloquence of our words nor our ability to quote chapter and verse, nor is it in how great is our fortune or fame that we bring the greatest glory to God. It is in how we live our ordinary lives as apostles, preaching by our ordinary deeds, all for the greater glory of God, that we can best evangelize and spread the Good News.

Amen.

 


[1] Lk 4:21.
[2] 1 Cor 12:12-14, 27.
[3] 1 Cor 12:22-26.
[4] St. Augustine of Hippo, SERMONS, ON EASTER 148.
[5] St. Francis of Assisi, Rule of 1221, Chapter XVII.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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