Thursday of Week 1 Per Annum (13th January): I Samuel 4.1-11; Psalm 43; Mark 1.40-45
God’s condemnation of the house of Eli [I Samuel 3.12-14] is enacted in a dramatic way as an emboldened Philistine army defeated Israel in a kind of blitzkrieg and captured the Ark as well. The two sons of Eli died, and shortly afterwards the 98-year-old Eli himself breathed his last. [4.18] Almost immediately the wife of Phinehas underwent premature labour and gave birth to a son. She died in childbirth, naming her son Ichabod: ‘Where is the glory?’ [4.19-22]
The prophet Isaiah [43.7] declared that God created humanity for his glory; millennia later
the Bishop of Lyon, St Irenaeus, in the 2nd Century of our era, exuberantly declared that ‘the Glory of God is a human being fully alive.’ The glory of God is his splendour, his radiance; at once it attracts us and astounds us; it makes us want to come near him and at the same time it repels us from his pervasive holiness.
To be fully alive, Jesus reminds us, necessitates first our death [Luke 9.24]—death to our self-centredness, death to our preference for the appetites of the flesh instead of our true hunger for God himself. The glory of God departs from us whenever we choose to be less than God made us to be. The glory of God shines out from our lives whenever like Christ Jesus himself [Hebrews 1.3] we offer ourselves, our souls and bodies, as living sacrifices. [Romans 12.1-2] Pontius Pilate himself unwittingly declared Jesus to be ‘the real man’ [John 19.5]: the truest exemplar of God’s own will and purpose, the radiance of God’s own glory.