“I give you a new commandment: love one another”

As we learn in today’s reading from John 13:31-33A,34-35, God is far from a god of vengeance and retribution, certainly not a god of intolerance and spite. God is above all things a god of love. The God of Love.

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.”

If true Christians take anything from the Gospels, it should be this lesson. That God loves us and expects us to love one another. And that to say one is a Christian is one thing; to be one is another. Some say that acts alone do not make a Christian. I say that just claiming faith does not make a Christian either. The acts of faith are the proof of the faith.

There are many ways to act on Jesus’ commandment to love one another. There is simply the act of feeling good about others. There is also the doing good works for them, acts of charity and good will. And there is the act of forgiveness and the act of forgetting when others have slighted us or erred against us. Then there is the act of love that is not judging others but accepting them for who they are. Of course, there is the pure act of love, of family, of marriage, of parenting, of friendship. And for many, the act of love expressed in “making love” with our spouse.

But when we quantify the act of love, do we not in some ways diminish love? Should we not simply seek to love others for the sake of love, for the sake of joining Jesus in sharing in communion with God’s all-embracing love? Then we don’t have to worry about enumerating it but just being an active part of it.

Love. There is no greater gift to give or to get. And it comes from and through God. And as we see in today’s reading, it is a commandment. If you want to observe a commandment, make sure you count this one. For the others will follow when we actively embrace this one.

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