What is the mark of love for your neighbor? Not to seek what is for your own benefit, but what is for the benefit of the one loved, both in body and in soul. - --St. Basil the Great: 330 379 was an influential theologian who supported the Nicene Creed and opposed the heresies of the early Christian church)
Gospel Text: (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.”
Today’s gospel from John strikes me due to its simplicity. Jesus gives us one commandment: love one another. There it is. There is no need for multiple tabs and reference books. No need for strategy sessions. Or perhaps there is a need for a certain kind of strategy, which is to be ever aware of God’s love for us so we can love one another. Such a simple and such a demanding commandment.
Jesus goes on to say that having love for one another is how he will know who his disciples are.
However, Jesus' idea of love was very different from how we sometimes define “love. For him, love is the love and care of the good Samaritan for the traveler waylaid on his way, of the good shepherd seeking his lost sheep, of the father welcoming his lost and wayward son, of the public sinner pouring costly ointment on his feet: for Jesus, "greater love than this no man has, that a man lay down his life for his friends." To a world of betraying Judas-es, lying Peters, lying Caiphas-es, gambling soldiers, and a whole spectrum of evil at his crucifixion, Jesus declared, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.." This is love which is entirely new. This is love as St. Stephen gave his life, ""Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. . . . Lord, do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 7: 59b – 60)
Why did Jesus love people the way he did? Certainly not for what he could get from them. His was a love which fulfilled itself in the well-being of others, a love which helped others, which rejoiced in the success of others, which applauded the triumph of the good and wept with those in sorrow. Such is the love of Christ which he left as a new commandment to his disciples and to all his followers. Such is the love of Christ at work in each of us. In this love the purpose of his kingdom is realized and fulfilled.