Gospel Reflection for May 6

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.


7 Responses to “Gospel Reflection for May 6”

  1. Douglas Karr Says:

    I really hope to one day love like this… unconditionally. It’s, perhaps, the greatest challenge that any Christian has. Stress, anger, jealousy, money… they all get in the way. If we can figure out how to do this, no doubt that we’ll experience true happiness here on Earth and beyond.

  2. Mark Grannis Says:

    The absence of conditions was the sticking point in our house this weekend as well. I printed this out and had it handy yesterday when the kids started to negotiate the terms and conditions under which they would be nice to each other. (For example, “I’ll only read this to you if you let me have a sip of your drink.”) It made an impression, as did my wife’s invocation of the Spoon Allegory (one version of which is here). We’ve been back to the well a couple of times, but now they’re starting to cite the other person’s attachment of conditions as a new cause for complaint. It’s amazing how exacting we can be about whether other people qualify for our love, and we seem to learn it early.

  3. Mark Esswein Says:

    Our Rector, Rick, is celebrating his 25th anniversary as an Episcopal priest. He also presided last week for the funeral of one of the Virginia Tech victims. In today’s service, Rick’s identical twin brother (who is also an Episcopal priest) presided and his father (yes, it runs in the family – and their last name is Lord – I kid you not) delivered the homily.

    I don’t know the exact details of how our church was chosen for the funeral ( I don’t know that they were members, ) but apparently the congregation turned out a virtual multiplicity of loaves and fishes and that was the first example in the homily.

    So we had close examples of both dedicated service and spontaneous service in devotion to Christian love.

  4. Thomas Considine Says:

    Be not afraid

    Often our walk seems like a lonely one. Often the demands of the “world” seem to shape our moods and affect our outlook.

    Often – we think of how Jesus loved – or how He lived through the prism of history – thinking about the time of 2000 years that separates us from His “walk”

    IN reality – HE is as close as the nearest tabernacle. He is there – present and waiting for our brief visit, our silent prayer.

    Visit HIM there regularly and let him CHANGE you. His grace will fall upon you as this is a special time of grace. His grace will change us – the best way – from the inside out. His grace will provide us VIRTUES and WISDOM that we need each day. His grace will provide us with DIRECTION on what he requires from us each day

    Be not afraid on your walk. You are not alone

  5. David Fitzgerald Says:

    Wendy, this is exactly right. You capture well God’s absolute freedom and therefore, his off-putting, to a certain type of personality, playfulness. I recently reread Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Those who have read the book will recall the retreat that the school boy Stephen Dedalus attends. Stephen’s Jesuit retreat master takes the pupils, for many pages, through a harrowing guided meditation on the nature of hell and the eternal exactitude of the moment of judgment. It is frightening reading.

    I’ve often reflected though, that the moment of judgment will not be like that at all. I can imagine entering the Lord’s banquet hall. I have a feeling I will be “surprised” at whom I find there and who is on the guest list and is yet to arrive. It would be very much like Jesus, don’t you think, to point out the table full of old friends, who predeceased you and whom you have sorely missed for all these years. However, you do not stop there. You notice there is an empty seat at a table in the corner and that Jesus is guiding you to that place. When you arrive, you are greeted by your worst enemy. The one who despised you and was serially unfair to you for his entire miserable life. Then Jesus, gently beckons you to that empty seat next to your enemy and tells you that the one condition for you remaining forever at the banquet is to take that seat because that is the seat he has prepared for you, bought and paid for, as the nuns’ used to say, with the wood of the cross.

    That infinite choice is the cost of God’s absolute freedom and, to me, knowing myself, is scarier than the worst fire and brimstone even a writer as gifted as Joyce can dream up.

  6. Mark Grannis Says:

    Dave, this is a great image, even a beautiful image. But, sinner that I am, I’m having a lot of fun arranging the chairs in my mind and imagining the discomfort of others. “Mr. Vice President, I think you know Senator Leahy, don’t you? Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill will be joining you soon, and it looks like Barbra Streisand and Ann Coulter have just gone to powder their noses.” But as you say, it’s not so funny to think of the seat I’d be offered.

    When I read Portrait of the Artist, I don’t think I had ever heard of Jesuits, and I think I can say with perfect accuracy that I do not remember a single thing about that book. Time for a re-read.

  7. David Fitzgerald Says:

    The following thought may not be my own, I might have read it years ago in one of Fr. Sampson’s books, but the idea is never far from my mind and if it is attributable to Fr. Sampson, consider this an attribution. If it is not from him, it certainly could be.

    I think the most chilling passage in the Scripture is the one that Jesus, quite intentionally, doesn’t utter. It’s at the end of the parable of the Prodigal Son. That story of course is full of “surprises.” You’ll remember that after the elder brother finishes whining, the Father (I am not even close to this patient with my own elder son) tries to explain himself (how many times have I uttered, “I don’t have to explain my reasons to you! Just do what I say.”). He tells the elder brother that he should rejoice because his brother is back, he invites him to join the party. And then….the story ends. We never find out what the elder brother does. I always imagine him sitting off alone in a funk, perhaps drowning his sorrows, or complaining to those “friends” of his that his father never gave him money to invite to a party, while the real party goes on without him. I imagine that that must be what hell is like, condemned for eternity to endlessly chew on our own grudges and sense of self righteousness, while the party goes on without us.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: