Tag Archives: St. Irenaeus

The poor person fully alive

The glory of God is the human person fully alive…
St. Irenaeus

The glory of God is the poor person fully alive.
Blessed Monseñor Oscar Romero

About seven weeks before he was martyred in the chapel of a hospital for poor cancer patients in San Salvador, Monseñor Romero received an honorary degree from Louvain in Belgium.

His speech is an astute explication of the ministry of the Archdiocese of San Salvador. At the end of his remarks, he notesd:

Early Christians used to say Gloria Dei, vivens homo (“the glory of God is the living person”). We could make this more concrete by saying Gloria Dei, vivens Pauper (“the glory of God is the living poor person”).

Today is the feast day of the second century bishop of Lyons, Saint Irenaeus, who wrote:

The glory of God is the living human person, for humanity’s true life is the vision of God.

As I was preparing to lead a Celebration of the Word in the village of Joyas Galanas this morning, I found myself reflecting on these quotes in light of today’s readings, especially the Gospel.

Mark 5: 21-43 tells of the healing of two very different women.

The leader of the synagogue, Jairus, comes to Jesus asking him to heal his dying daughter. He is a man with connections and power who seeks help for the life of his child.

On the way, an unnamed, unknown woman touches Jesus’ cloak and is healed. She has no power; in fact she is one of the despised. She is a woman; she has been hemorrhaging for twelve years and therefore was ritually impure; she is poor, having spent all her money on useless doctors. She is an outcast – but an outcast with faith.

Jesus seeks to know who touched him, who was healed. He restores her to the community and, as Gustavo Gutierrez noted, has rescued her from anonymity. And then he acknowledges her faith.

She is healed not only of her illness but also of the malady of isolation and marginalization. Indeed, Jesus addresses her as “daughter,” this woman who probably was cast aside by all too many people, maybe even her family.

But what happens next is instructive. Jairus is told that his daughter has died. Jesus tells him, “Do not fear. Just have faith.”

The woman with the flow of blood was praised for her faith, but the synagogue official has to be reminded to have faith!

Jesus then proceeds to heal the daughter of Jairus, taking the child by hand.

The glory of God was shown that day in Galilee – a child was restored to life and a poor sick woman was restored to health and to the life of the community. The woman recovered her dignity.

Thus we are called to choose life, to provide for the life of our sisters and brothers, especially the poorest, and to recognize the dignity of all persons.

We are called to live as Jesus did, even remembering the little details

Before leaving Jairus’ home, Jesus told them to give the child something to eat.

That’s the least we can do.

The Glory of God

You are my servant, Israel,
through whom I show my glory.
Isaiah 49: 3

How do I manifest the glory of God?

How do I, in my daily life, show God’s glory?

There is a temptation to think that one can best show the glory of God by grand spectacles, by spectacular deeds, by lives that make people look on in admiration.

But, Jesus is manifested not as a Lion, but as the Lamb of God. As Jean Vanier notes, “We are called to be gentle followers of the Lamb, not people of power.”

But what is the glory of God?

St. Irenaeus put it succinctly:

The glory of God is the human person fully alive, and to be alive consists in beholding God.

Martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero added:

 Gloria Dei, vivens pauper.
The glory of God is the poor person fully alive.

When a person is fully alive God shines through. The person lives as a child of God – a person who is be loved as we love God. The human person fully alive lives with dignity.

That means that we must love and respect that person – and, better, accompany that person in the path of life and love.

In my ministry that means letting my presence, my accompaniment, be a means by which the people can see their dignity, their capabilities, their relationship with a loving God.

In speaking of catechists in Evangelii Gaudium, ¶164, Pope Francis put it well:

the first proclamation must ring out over and over: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.”

We are called to manifest that love of God, especially for the poor, in our lives.

Recently I finished Eloi Leclerc’s The Wisdom of the Poor One of Assisi. At the end of this fictional account, he has St. Francis say these words to Brother Tancred:

“Can’t you see, Brother, that to evangelize a person is to say to that one: ‘You─yes, you too are loved by God in the Lord Jesus.’
“And you must not only tell that person so, but you must really believe it, and not only believe it, but conduct yourself with this person in such a way that this person can feel and discover there is something within that is being redeemed, something more majestic and noble than had ever been dreamed.”

How can I show the glory of God in my life so that the poor discover that power of God, that grace of God – in their personal lives and in their lives as community – that shows forth redemption, life, and love?


The glory of God

Today is the feast of St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, who was both a peacemaker and a defender of the faith.

One of the major challenges of his time was Gnosticism, a belief in the absolute separation of matter, which is bad, and spirit, which is good. Thus, with a secret knowledge (gnosis) one should struggle to free oneself from the body. Thus Gnosticism had little use for the Incarnation, God becoming flesh.

In his treatise Against Heresies, he wrote:

For the glory of God is a living human being; and the life of a human consists in beholding God. For if the manifestation of God which is made by means of the creation, affords life to all living in the earth, much more does that revelation of the Father which comes through the Word, give life to those who see God.

The Incarnation thus is the revelation of God’s life and God’s desire for us to behold Him and live.

In his address at the University of Louvain in 1980, weeks before his martyrdom, Archbishop Oscar Romero closed his address on The Political Dimension of Faith with a rephrasing of the words of St. Irenaeus.

The Christians of old used to say: “Gloria Dei, vivens homo.” (The Glory of God is the human person who is alive.) We could make this concrete saying: “Gloria Dei, vivens pauper.” (The Glory of God is the poor person who is alive.) We believe that from the transcended of the Gospel we can judge in what consists in truth the life of the poor; and we also believe that by putting ourselves on the side of the poor and trying to give them life we will in what consists the eternal truth of the Gospel.

The incarnation of Christ as a poor man in a poor and oppressed land is what gives us the inspiration and the challenge to be with the poor, to be on their side, so that the glory of God may be revealed in us. It is what will give life, in a world torn apart by poverty and radical inequity.