Love of God and each other
It is suggested that the theme and message of love is the basis for more plays, songs, novels, films and poems that any other human emotion! We try to express as best we can through, chocolates, flowers and gifts what we mean when we say I love you. While these are all very important, there is the danger that they remain a little too romantic. When Jesus speaks of love in the gospel today, he is speaking of a very different kind of love.
The second reading begins with this call; ‘Let us love one another since love comes from God.’ In the same reading we read; ‘God’s love was revealed when God sent his only Son so that we can life through him… this is the love I mean, not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his to be sacrificed.’ This is the sacred and profound love that God has for each of us. It recall Jesus’ own words in today’s gospel; ‘there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends.’ While love is life-giving and central to our experience of being human, there is in Christian love the reality of selflessness and sacrifice. Jesus not only spoke about this, he demonstrated it through the way he lived. When he washed his friends’ feet he was showing them how much he loved them and then said; ‘I the Lord and master have washed your feet. You, then, are to wash each other’s feet. I have set an example for you, so that you will do what I have done for you… this then is what I command you; love one another.’ This is Christian love at its most radical and explicit. This is the sacrifice of Christian love; that we reach out to others, put their needs before ours and serve them.
We must never underestimate the impact our small acts of kindness love and service have on others. Perhaps we are tempted to see these gestures as unimportant and even insignificant. They can and often do make a huge difference to the other person. Maybe we will never know how our acts of love and sacrifice affect others – that ok, maybe we don’t need to!
This is an encouraging and challenging gospel. If we say we love God and follow Jesus, then we are at the same time called to love others and care for them in whatever way we can. We are called to show our love for others and God in and through our ordinary lives.
As scripture reminds us; ‘This is how we know what love is: Christ gave his life for us. We too, then, are to give our lives for each other… our love for each other should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.’ (1 John. 3.18).