I have always said that Scripture from Genesis to Revelation speaks of only two things: Love of God, and love of our neighbor. We are being called to become what we receive. Every time we receive Holy Communion, we receive Jesus; we become one with him and we are called to be a reflection of him who is love. In today’s gospel, Jesus is giving us a new commandment – “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” (John 13:34-35).
Since Jesus is no longer present among us physically, we have to make him present in the world by obeying his new commandment to love one another in the same way that he loved us – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). It’s been said, actions speak louder than words; Jesus said to his disciples: “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” (John 13:34-35).
In today’s gospel Jesus as our Teacher commands us to imitate the qualities of his love towards his disciples. The qualities of his love are: caring, serving, healing, forgiving and sacrificing to the point of laying down his life. Since the word “love” in our languages has many connotations, many of us mix it up with its common meaning of a good or warm feeling, an attraction and a kind regard for the person whom we like.
Christian love (in Greek ‘agape’) goes beyond this; it means doing a loving action rather than having a loving or sentimental feeling for somebody. We are called to do good, to serve and care for people even if we do not feel any affection or attraction towards them, because they are the image and likeness of God. If any one of us thinks that he or she has a valid reason for not helping another in need because of their nasty behavior in the past, we should think of the context in which Jesus gives his love-command – the context of his knowledge about his betrayal by Judas and denial by Peter.
Love is given as a ‘farewell message’ at the Last Supper by affectionately calling the disciples his “little children”. Therefore, if we want to practice love as Jesus loved us we should not go by our feelings, because feelings comes and go. We should make a decision to show love in action or deeds of mercy towards those whom we feel have betrayed us or denied us. In fact ‘agape’ (love) is an attitude like that of Christ, which is manifested in action.
Love is an acronym that means: Living Our Values Every day. Let us live our values as children of God every day of our life.