John 13:31-35

When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

In every human heart is the desire to be loved. It is a great need. Mother Teresa said that the hunger for love is the greatest hunger in the world. However, human love is very limited and can be very limiting. It can involve control, possession, dependence, and many other elements of being unfree. I don’t think it is possible for one human being to really love another with a love that is unconditional, depending only on the human capacity to love.

On a practical, down-to-earth level, there are people in the lives of most of us whom we find impossible or pretty near impossible to love. But this is the acid test of the whole Christian mission because Jesus asked us to love even our enemies! Many of us find it difficult to love some of our friends! And when it comes to ex-lovers, good luck there! Not only is the love that was declared undying very dead, but very often, it turns putrid and foul.

However, if I am willing to go to the heart of the Christian message and not just see it as some sort of an a-la-carte menu, where I pick and choose what I want to follow, then I come face to face with one simple fact: I HAVE TO LOVE! It is a commandment. But I realize I don’t have what it takes to love as Christ wants us to. To accept this simple fact is a moment of profound conversion. It makes me realize my great need for the Holy Spirit and consequently opens my heart to him and what he can do in me and through me.

The more my heart is open to God, the greater my capacity for loving others. That is because the more my heart is open, the more I can receive God’s love. And because his love is completely unconditional, always forgiving, and totally self-sacrificing, I find myself able to be accepting, forgiving, and sacrificing. After all, how can I receive love like this on one side and withhold it on the other?

Eventually, when we have completely surrendered ourselves to the Holy Spirit of God, dying to ourselves and every need for fulfillment from other human beings, our love can be as limitless and deep as Christ’s. And then, even if your enemies were to pillory you or hammer you to a cross, you’d look at them as Jesus looked at them—with eyes of love.

As we reflect on these verses, let's ask ourselves: Are we loving one another as Jesus has loved us? Is our love for our fellow believers sacrificial, unconditional, and forgiving? Is it a witness to the world?

God bless you.

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