Love one another as I have loved you.
Today’s gospel poses the central challenge of the Christian life: loving one another as Christ has loved us. Given in the context of the Last Supper discourse, Jesus’ commandment of love is what he bequeaths his disciples knowing that he is about to suffer and die.
Obviously, the love that Jesus refers here is not the love found in soap operas--- the romantic and fleeting one.
We are all too familiar with the injunction to love one another---simple to understand yet difficult to do. Yet what makes it more difficult is what qualifies that love, i.e., as Jesus has loved us. It is natural and easy to love those who are lovable or to those we are partial to. It is easy to love when it is characterized by “quid pro quo”. It is easy to love when we are guaranteed to be loved back in return. It is easy to love in the face of goodness. But what if we are faced with evil, with injustice, with betrayal, with uncertainties, with non-reciprocity, can we still choose to love?
This love that Jesus challenges us into is modeled by Jesus himself. If we look into the literary context of our gospel, it is placed after Jesus washed the foot of his apostles and Judas’ impending betrayal of Jesus. We can infer then that this love is characterized by acts of humble service. Such love calls us to serve one another even in the mundane and most menial tasks. This love then is always concrete and expressed in deeds rather than simply words. Just as Jesus loved his apostles, yes, even Judas, who was about to betray him, points to the truth that this love is never dependent on the worthiness of the recipient. Thus, this love needs to be inclusive, crossing boundaries which we, and even society, place on people. I believe, this is where we most fail in loving, by putting limitations on who we love by equating it to who deserves and is worthy of our love. A further look on Jesus’ love is that it involves sacrifice. Jesus’ love for us entailed giving his life so that we may be redeemed and have eternal life. This love then challenges us to go beyond our comfort zones, to travel the extra mile, and perhaps not to count what it would cost us (not necessarily financial).
Choosing to love at all times enables us to see the world in a different lens--- the lens of love. The more we love, the more we become sensitive to acts of love and recognize it around us. The Christian life is a life of love, nothing less. If we honestly look at ourselves, we may be daunted by our inadequacies and imperfections. The love of Jesus would always remain the ideal, and surely, a lot of times we will fail in loving as Jesus loved, but this should not stop us from living the way of love. As God is love, we are created in love and are deeply loved by God, we are to live in love and die in love. Choose love. Let God’s love empower us to love as he has loved.