May 19 2019 Reflection
Sunday 19 May 2019
First Reading: ACTS 14:21-27
I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
PS 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
Second Reading: REV 21:1-5A
Gospel Reading: JN 13:31-33A, 34-35
Today’s Note: Fifth Sunday of Easter
When Judas had left them, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
Love . . . one another. (John 13:34)
That seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? Be nice, take care of the people you’re close to, maybe give some money to the poor. But is this all that Jesus means? Or does he have a different idea? Let’s look at the context of this command to get some idea.
Jesus has just washed his disciples’ feet, and Judas has left on his mission to betray him. Jesus knows he will not be with his friends much longer as the cross begins to loom large in his mind. So when he tells his disciples to love one another as he loved them, he is calling them to a love that mirrors his own love—a love that is selfless and sacrificial, a love that flows from God’s unconditional love for each person on earth.
This way of loving would set apart Jesus’ followers because it is so different from the way most people think of love. Jesus’ love washed the feet of his betrayer. It forgave those who nailed him to the cross. It reached across cultural lines to embrace Samaritans and Gentiles. It extended healing to the marginalized and political rivals.
It’s this kind of love that won people over in the first century: they saw believers caring for outcasts like widows and orphans and holding their possessions in common. But it has also won people over throughout history: people saw Christians nursing plague victims in the Middle Ages, believers risking their safety to hide Jews during World War II, and more recently, Pope St. John Paul II forgiving the man who shot him.
Awe for the saints who loved like this might make you think it’s impossible for you, but this call to love isn’t just for the saints. Jesus has touched your life, and he lives in you, just as he did the saints. How did they do it? They experienced Jesus’ love firsthand, and it changed the way they loved the people around them. That very same thing can happen to you.
“Today, Jesus, teach me to love as you love.”