If we are accused of being Christians, will our actions prove us guilty of that charge? Last month I wrote a blog trying to come to grips with the teaching of Jesus about forgiveness.
Peter asked Jesus, “‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21. And, in His early teachings, Jesus reaffirmed that we should love our neighbors as ourselves.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear that, at the Last Supper, Jesus amplified that teaching when He said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you are also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciple, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35.
How do each of us live up to this reading and this new commandment? Jesus says that love for one another will be the way we are known to be disciples of Him. Not by our words will be known as Christians but, primarily, by our love for one another. So, as to this love for one another, Jesus sets a really high standard for that love. Not just in the prior Judeo teaching of measure as we love ourselves. But, the measuring bar is raised in this new commandment to the level of loving one another as He loved us!
In the measurement ‘as we love ourselves,’ we would not sacrifice ourselves for ourselves, would we? In the new commandment, on the eve of His suffering and death, Jesus is giving us the measurement for loving each other to be as He loves us. He, then, goes on to his suffering and death on the cross for us. So, under this new commandment, we should be willing to love one another even to the sacrifice of our lives. Are we really really ready, willing and able to live up to this commandment? In light of this new commandment Jesus gives us at the Last Supper, the standard for forgiveness that He gave us and His prior reaffirmance of Jewish teaching of love for one another seem small and paltry. It can simply but humorously be viewed by the joke about who sacrifices more for us for our breakfasts - the chicken or the pig? The chicken just gives us the eggs but the pig gives his life so we can have our ham or bacon with those eggs!
The reality of this new commandment is its difficulty to live and to deal with people who have wronged us and for whom we have held or still do have long-time grudges. We can humorously think that it was easy for Jesus because, after all, He is God! But, it is Jesus who proclaimed this new commandment on the eve of His suffering and death for all of us and for our sins. Tough gig, isn’t it. He didn’t not give any exceptions for neighbors who do or say things we do not like. It is a broad, universal command by Him.
Going around preaching how much we love Him, praying to Him, and telling other people to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior is meaningless unless we are first convicted as Christians by our own actions of loving each other as He loved us in his new commandment. This sure tests our commitment to Jesus - will we only go part way and just donate eggs or go all the way in order to fulfill his charge to us? Remember, also, Jesus did not say this was a new suggestion. He said it was a new commandment.
Pray for me in my quest to succeed in loving you and everyone by this standard in the new commandment and I will pray for your success.
Now, you know what I think and I would very much like to know what you think about this.
Let the light of our Lord shine upon you!
Ray Makowski, Co-Founder, Director and Secretary-Treasurer