Pastoral Direction – Love One Another

In today’s Gospel we find Judas leaving and Jesus announcing that the moment had come for God’s power to be made manifest.  This is unexpected at a moment of imminent betrayal.  Have there been times for us when the power of God was made manifest in strange circumstances?

‘I shall not be with you much longer.’  Jesus announces a parting of the ways.  There are places we have to go in life where others cannot come with us.  There are places others have to go and we cannot accompany them.  When have we experienced this going on alone as necessary for a fuller life for ourselves or for someone else?

In today’s Gospel Jesus gives the disciples a new commandment – love one another.  When we truly love one another, we are experiencing something of the divine as love comes from God, love is God and God is love.  Surely Jesus’s command to love one another was nothing new for the disciples and those of their time; the commandment is well known in the Old Testament.  But the love Jesus asks of the disciples (and of us) is to love as he has loved.  This is controversial for some people.  It is controversial because Jesus’s love is without restrictions and without exclusion.  It is a love of those we may not like, a love of those it is hard to love.

This love was too radical for some of the religious leaders of Jesus’s time and ultimately led to his death.  This radically inclusive love is sometimes too much for Christians today also, to love the sinner, to love those on the extreme margins of our society, to love those who have hurt us, to welcome back those who have done wrong, to include all at the table.

Let us hear those words of the Gospel more clearly today:  I give you a new commandment:  love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should you love one another.   This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  Jesus proclaims love as the distinguishing characteristics of his followers.  Have there been times when reaching out to others has heightened our sense of walking in the footsteps of Jesus?  Let us recall who the individuals or communities are whose love for one another and for others has been a witness to us?

‘Let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcome, loved and forgiven.’                    Pope Francis

We can dream and work towards a world and a Church where this is a reality. 

Lord help us to love you in others each day.  Help us to touch your face with mercy and kindness.  Help to overcome barriers of ego and dislike and know that even those we find hard to love are a manifestation of your gloried Body in our world each day.