Easter 5C, May 19, 2019,Commanded to Love, John 13:34

It was the last meal Jesus ate with his disciples.  After he gave the bread to Judas, that disciple hastily left to betray his Lord.  St. John wrote that Satan was the evil influence in Judas’ life,  There certainly was no love in Judas’ heart as he set out to do his dirty work.

After Judas departed Jesus continued to speak to his disciples,  He gave them what we call the love command with these words, “A new commandment I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  (John13:34)

The English language only has one word for love, but the Greek language has several different words for love depending on the kind of love it is.  There is a word for the love parents have for children; a word for brotherly love; a word for sexual love; and a word for selfless and sacrificial love.  It is this last kind the love, selfless and sacrificial, that Jesus used in his love command for all Christians.

We are to love others without asking for anything in return.  We can only approach doing this kind of love as the Holy Spirit helps us.  This is a pure kind of love which takes our ego out of the situation so that we give to another freely, generously, and humbly.  It is an authentic kind of love.

Jesus is primary example of this selfless and sacrificial kind of love.  In the Gospel of John we see Jesus’ abundant love for others.

Jesus had no prejudice in his heart when he offered living water to the Samaritan woman at the well.  Jesus’ spiritual gift to her was filled with love.

Jesus feed the crowd of 5000 people with five loaves and two fish.  He had compassion on them.  He loved them.  He didn’t send them away hungry and searching for their next meal.

Jesus healed the man born blind.  He opened up a new world for this man who had lived in darkness.  Jesus loved him and made him whole.

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  His love for life was so strong that it defeated death and its stranglehold on humanity.  Lazarus breathed again, walked again, and lived again because of Jesus’ love.

But Jesus greatest act of sacrificial love was his death on the cross for your salvation, for mine, and for a hurting, sinful, and broken world.  What love Jesus has for all of his creation so that he gave his life freely, willingly, and humbly to save us from the threatening danger of our sin!

So as Jesus loved, we are to love, too.  We are to follow in his way.  We can start to love by doing the little things which really make a difference:

call a sick friend to offer encouragement and prayer;

run an errand for a neighbor in need;

make sure we hug our children and tell them we love them;

surprise our spouse with a gift he or she would really appreciate;

listen carefully and appreciate the life stories our grandparents share with us;

send an email or text to our nephew or niece in college to encourage them in their studies;

and give an offering to feed the poor and homeless. 

There are many ways and types of love which we can offer to others as the Holy Spirit inspires us.

I have seen on television the short clips of a soldier coming back home from a tour of duty to the surprise of her or his son and daughter at school.  When that child sees his mom or dad for the first time in a long time, that child runs to his parent.  They embrace each other.  They are together again.  Hearts are joyfully leaping.  Spirits are uplifted.  There is love for one another.

So, too, Jesus loves us with an everlasting love. He even loved and forgave Judas.  Jesus embraces us with his  love as the soldier/parent embraces his child he has not seen in months.  Jesus loves us first.  And with Jesus’ love, we are inspired to love others, too.  We take Jesus’ love command to heart and let it flow generously and abundantly to others.

Thanks be to God!

Amen.

+++

Greek words for love

Storge – love in the family

Eros – romantic love

Philia – brotherly love

Agape – divine love, total self-giving love

 

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