Gospel (Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35)
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.”
In this passage of John’s gospel, Jesus will soon be condemned to death. He knows that his life is in danger and his time on earth is short. Before he goes, he gives his disciples a new commandment, really a final blessing: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” He doesn’t just say “love one another”, rather love one another “as I have loved you”. What does it mean to love as Jesus loved? Are we expected to love as perfectly as Jesus, as God himself? It seems we are but where do we begin? I wonder if we begin by loving one another in the same manner that Jesus loved us.
This Wednesday evening, I was given a wonderful surprise when nearly 20 moms from school gathered most unexpectedly for my graduation from a diocesan leadership program that for the past three years, I have truly loved. Their surprise transformed the evening from one of some melancholy to one of pure joy and it gave me an idea about the way that Jesus loved. Like the presence of my friends, Jesus’ love was often most unexpected and very surprising.
When Jesus sat at the well with a Samaritan woman, the disciples were very surprised. When Jesus chose to have meals with tax collectors and sinners, the Jewish leaders were very surprised. When Jesus invited the children to come to Him, His followers again were surprised. Over and over again, Jesus surprised people with the unexpected ways of His love.
He loved His enemies, He loved those that others didn’t, He loved the little children. To love as Jesus loved is to surprise one another with unexpected acts of love and kindness. We are commanded to love not just those that expect our love but especially those who don’t. We are called to love not just those who are kind to us but also those who are not. We are called to love not just those who help us but those who need our help.
This commandment is a blessing. It is the way the peace of Christ remains with us. If we love as Jesus loved, we will be His disciples and WE will surprise the world.