Acts 14:21-27, Apocalypse 21:1-5, John 13:31-33,34-35
Love One Another As I Love You
A mother of five who lived a well fulfilled and happy life laid sick in the hospital. A few days before this, the mother developed some complications in her internal organs.
She fainted and the children rushed her to the hospital thinking that she would die on the spot, but after several hours, the mother opened her eyes and smiled at the children. “Why are you smiling mama we are already worried about your sickness”, one of them said to her.
She opened her eyes again and smiled the second time. At this time, the other children noticed her and they said to her “Mama we are worried about you and you are smiling at us, we know you love us, we love you too”.
The gentle mother still closed her eyes and did not respond to them. They became worried, They shouted, “mama we love you, we do not want you to go”.
The point is that the mother has five children and all of them are male children. For the time being, the children have been living in crisis and enmity with each other.
They hardly come together as one. So, the sickness of the mother became an avenue that brought them together for the first time.
Now, while they are telling the mama how worried they are because of her sickness, for the third the time, the woman opened her eyes again and said to them “am happy, you are now together, thinking together and worried together. The only way to show you love me is to come together and love one another. If you want to keep me smiling be together and love one another”.
With this, the mother breathed the last.
Today, this family has become a model of unity and love in the community.
In the same way, the mother asked the children to live in love as the only way to show they love her and keep her happy and smiling, is the same way Jesus requests that the only law that must guide our actions is love.
In today’s reading, Jesus does not make love a probability, Jesus makes it a command. Therefore, the law of love should be the underlying motivation behind everything that we do.
It should be the only law that must guide every Christians.
The Depth and Exemplary of the Love of Jesus.
To fully understand today’s gospel very well, we have to read from the beginning of chapter 13 of Saint John, where this gospel is taken.
In chapter thirteen of today’s gospel, John tells us that before the Passover Festival, Jesus knows that His hour has come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father.
Then John says “Having loved his own who were in the world, He loved them to the end”. With this statement, John gives us a glimpse of the love that Jesus has for His disciples. He loves them to the end and His love is complete.
Now to fully explain and prove this practically, John tells us how Jesus washes the feet of His disciples, which is a sign of great love. So, He loves them completely even to wash their feet.
Therefore, by washing their feet and dirt Jesus proves to them how He so much loves them, in essence, how He so much loves us. It means that If He can wash our feet, then He can do anything for us. With this, He proves to us that His love is complete.
This love culminates in the sacrifice of the cross. Therefore, to be willing to show this type of love, we have to be willing to sacrifice and help one another.
2. Now after washing the feet of the disciples, Jesus asks them “Do you understand what I have done for you?” You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you”.
Therefore, His love should be the example or model of our love. He set this as an example of the type of life He wants His disciples to live.
Even when Simon Peter did not allow Him to wash his feet, Jesus told Him that if He didn’t wash his feet, then He will not be his disciples.
Therefore, the only way to be a true disciple of Jesus is to be willing to sacrifice, to be willing to wipe the dirt of others, live in love, forgive, embrace, welcome and live in love with each other. Without this, our Christianity is fake.
3. It was after washing the feet of the disciples, in which He proves to them how deep His love for them is, that today’s gospel continues with.
Then in today’s gospel, which is a part of chapter 13, Jesus says to them again, love one another as I have loved you. In essence, Jesus wants to show them how to truly love, and he exemplified this with the washing of the feet.
The washing of the feet is symbolic of one who wants to lay down his life for another. Therefore, this shows how deep the love of Jesus is and how He desires us to do the same to others.
To Love One Another is A Command.
To injunction to love one another is a command. In the gospel, Jesus says to the disciples :
“ My little children,
I shall not be with you much longer.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another;
just as I have loved you,
you also must love one another.
Jesus calls this a commandment. To understand this, let us do a little literal interpretation. First, what is a command? What does a command require? How do we respond to a command?
What happens when we do not obey a command? These questions will let us understand what Jesus means when He says “this is a commandment”.
a. What is a command? A command is simply an authoritative order. It is an order given by someone in authority. In simple terms, it is an authoritative direction or instruction to do something.
Therefore, the injunction to love is an order. This order is not like an order given by dictators or impostors, but an order to save us from problems and eternal damnation. Obedience to this order is already a way to salvation.
b.What does a command require? Every command also requires obedience on the part of the followers. Therefore, there is no backing out from it.
C. How do we respond to this command? Now to answer this, we have to go back to the gospel. In the gospel, Jesus also says “just as I have loved you, you also must love one another.
Therefore, this injunction is a must. There is no probability in it. There is no “if”. It is legally, morally, spiritually and humanly binding to live in love. This is what should separate us from others.
In essence, Christians cannot but live in love. To live otherwise is anti-Christianity. Therefore, we cannot say we love God and still move about killing people, putting people into suffering.
We cannot say we love God but we intimidate others and live in hatred, dissensions, wickedness, divisions and quarrelling.
Also, we cannot say we love God, but we harden our hearts, bear grudges and refuse to forgive others when they do wrong to us. Such types of lives depict anti-Christianity.
The Measure We are to love Others.
One may ask then how much can I show my love to others? Is there a limit to what I can do for other people? I answer these: Let us analyze the nature and extent of loving one another with the readings of today. They are:
1. Our love must be complete: When you read the gospel, Jesus repeated “love one another three times” The number three is a number that signifies completion.
With the number three, Jesus shows how important it is to live in love and not in hatred. Three times, he repeats “love one another”.
Therefore, our love for each other should have no reservations or conditions. We do not love someone because of any condition. It is what we must do as Christians.
2. Our love must reflect that of Jesus: In the gospel, Jesus says to them “Love one another as I have loved you” therefore, the measure we are to show love to others is that of Jesus’ love for us. Love as Jesus loves should be the key.
If Jesus sacrifices his life for us, then we have to do the same to others. If Jesus did not intimidate the people with his power but saved them with the same power, then we have to do the same to others.
We do not intimidate others with our position, wealth and possessions. We do not kill because we are opportune to hold arms. Love is the greatest law.
Also if Jesus can still forgive His oppressors and traitors, then we do not have to live in grudges or seek revenge.
Our love for others should be real and reflect that of Jesus. If Jesus never lived in hatred, then we do not have to live in hatred.
If he can stoop so low even to wash the feet of His disciples, then we should not see it as an insult when people seek our help. We have to be willing to wipe their dirt and save the needy and the suffering.
Let us love as Jesus loves.
The Reasons We must Love One Another
1. We must love one another because it will help us and not destroy us.
It was the love and understanding that existed between Paul and Barnabas that made them work together, preaching the gospel among the gentiles and at the end, they confessed how God has opened the way for them.
When we do not live in love, we cannot work together and when we cannot work together, our progress is limited. Therefore, to live in love is a secret of peace and progress.
2. It makes everything new. We live in a new world when we love one another. In the second reading, John sees a new vision of new heaven and new earth.
This is the abode of those who keep God’s commandment. And the greatest of this commandment is to love. When we begin to love sincerely, we even make our new heaven.
It is a different world for families, communities and people that love each other truly and live on that. They create their heaven on earth. It is befitting to live in love.
3. God dwells where there is love. In the second reading, Saint John says he heard a loud cry from the throne saying
“Behold God’s dwelling is with the human.He will dwell with them and they will be His people and God himself will always be with them as their God…”
God dwells in our midst when we live in peace and show love to each other. 1 John 4:8 says that God is love.
Therefore, if God is love, His presence is surrounded with love”. He lives where there is love.
4. To love one another is a command. Therefore, it is not under probability.
5. Finally, Jesus says that this is what truly differentiates us from others. It is what makes us His disciples.
He says in the gospel “By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples”.
Therefore, we do not claim to be true disciples of Jesus Christ, when our souls are darkened by evil.
When Judas Left: What Happens We leave the fold.
Judas was part of the united disciples of Jesus. But immediately, He left today, and what followed next was a betrayal.
Every Christian should be bound in this family of love and togetherness, whenever we decide to derail or shift, what awaits us are hatred, wickedness, backbiting, and dissensions.
The opposite of love is hatred. When we decide not to live in love, what awaits us next is the opposite. Had it been Judas stayed with the apostles and the inner caucus, there would be no betrayal.
Therefore, when we live what Jesus teaches us or what God teaches us to do, the next option then is to live according to what the world teaches or what our friends teach us. By then many of them will advise you to carry arms, do charms, intimidate, burn, kill, fight etc.
When we leave the fold, what happens next is darkness. John says categorically in this chapter that Immediately Judas left, then there was darkness.
2. Today, many Christians are living in divided homes and extremely living in chaos and hatred. This is the reason evil keeps increasing.
Many people today hate themselves for nothing. In today’s farewell address, Jesus instructs us to love one another. He knows his time is near. Now seeing them in a depressed condition, He says to them “love one another”.
In essence, Jesus is revealing to them the secret of their survival despite his absence. He knows that living in love and unity is the only thing that can keep them together.
In the same way, if we want to progress in anything we do, we have to come together, live together, think together and do everything. This is not for our selfish gain but the betterment of all.
We are asked to transmit this love to others because we have been gifted with a relationship with him. By showing love we are revealing God to the world.
1. Every day we keep dreaming of a new and better world. We continue to hope that things get better, yet things are going from worse to worse. Many people are suffering.
The point is that we have decided to live otherwise. We focus more on our gains and selfish interests instead of the good of everyone.
We hope that things get better, but we are not ready to make things better. Today, We live in hatred, division, etc. We want to make money by all means and many others resort to kidnapping, armed robbery, killing and intimidating innocent souls.
The world has departed like Judas Iscariot and wandered into darkness. Many people are abandoning the faith daily.
Judas abandoned the light and wandered in darkness. Therefore, when we abandon the light of the world Jesus Christ, the next is darkness. We can achieve a better life if we can come back to Jesus and love one another.
2. Secondly, we are longing for a family where there is progress and peace. We dream of a place characterized by justice, order and harmony.
We dream and pray for a world where people appreciate and support one another as brothers and sisters, where everyone is ready to share not only the joys but also the pains of others.
This is also what Jesus dreams and expects when He says to the disciples to love one another as He has done. Therefore, such a dream will become a reality when we put Christ’s commandment into practice. This is the only way to heal our land again.
3. The problem is that Jesus enjoins us to love one another. He knows the need and what we shall benefit from it if we do. But today, we have failed. We have failed to live in love with another. Jesus teaches us that brotherly/sisterly love should be our distinctive mark but we have often hurt our neighbours.
We have divided our towns and families. Jesus teaches us that love for one another will be the template for our eternal judgement but we have neglected Him and ignored his teachings. He asks us to forgive but we have ignored him and chose to live in hatred, bearing grudges for others. Where do we go from here? We need God’s mercy.
4. Therefore, this is a call to live according to the pattern of life that Jesus teaches, to love as he loves. It is time to rise above the predominant attitudes of indifference, selfishness, vengefulness and wickedness.
We have to forgive those who offend us and never harbour grudges and feelings of revenge. Let us seek to show a loving concern for our neighbours especially the sick, the poor and the marginalised. Seek for that poor fellow around you.
5. Therefore, the way to exercise this is to show love through acts of compassion, generosity and forgiveness, in imitation of Jesus who continues to love and care for us and is always willing to forgive us again and again.
Let us not be like Judas who left and wandered in darkness, rather let us be like other disciples who united themselves around Jesus.
Let us, therefore, unite ourselves around Him and live in love. Love one another as Jesus loves You.