Sunday Readings: Acts 14.21-27; Revelation 21.1-5; John 13.31-35
After Judas went out, Jesus began to speak
“Now is the Son of Man glorified,
and God is glorified in him.
If God has been glorified in him,
God will, in turn, glorify him soon.
Children, I am with you only a little longer.
A new commandment I give you: love one another.
As I have loved you, so also you should love one another.
In this way, all will know that you are my disciples:
if you have love for one another (John 13.31-35).
Love is a feeling, a warm embrace when spouses get home from work, the joy of getting flowers or holding a grandchild, the pleasure of someone making your favorite dessert. Love is sometimes passionate, sexual, sensual, intimate. But also the excitement of meeting someone who reads as much or as widely, who cares about sustaining Earth, who values hope over cynicism, someone with whom one can be oneself.
Love is a verb. Cook, clean, wash clothes, plan, shop, pay bills, fix what is broken. As in Jesus’ life, our lives sometimes ask more, even everything we can give. A sick child, a sick parent, mental illness, trips to the doctor, worry, fatigue. Our lives ask in the end all we have to give.
At his last supper with his disciples, Jesus reveals his great commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. Our capacity to love one another is our capacity to be like God. In each loving act we transcend our individual selves and gift energy that heals and gives life, that holds families and friends together, that inspires service of country and church, that draws neighbors into communities.
At the last supper in John’s gospel, Jesus models an act of service; he washes and dries his disciples’ feet. “As I have done, so you must do.” He makes footwashing rather than blessing and sharing bread and wine the symbolic action that anticipates and interprets the meaning of his death on the cross. The way to imitate Jesus’ ultimate service and love—his humiliating death on the cross—is to serve one another.
To love one another as Jesus does is to love to the end, all the way, with one’s whole life unto death. Discipleship in John’s community is not about status but about footwashing and service.
What is a personal commandment you keep? How is it like Jesus’ new commandment?