Love One Another as Christ Has Loved You (cf Jn 13:34)
“‘Teacher which is the great commandment in the law?’ … the savior answered the question by referring to the scripture passage that commands the perfect union of all our desires in God. Yet for fear that an ignorant person might suspect that binding all of our love together into our love for God would leave none for our neighbors, he added the second precept to the first, carrying the love of neighbor to its perfection by again showing that the law commands that we ‘love our neighbor as ourselves’ and using the word neighbor instead of the word friend that is in the law (cf Lev 19:18 in the Douay-Rheims), because the more general word neighbor extends our charity to all those who share in our common nature, as the Son of God had already explained in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29).” (Note 2)
“Not only is the Decalogue contained in those two precepts, but ‘all the law and the prophets’ (Matt. 22:40), for God here teaches us not only our external duties, but also the inner principles by which we ought to act, which is lave. The one who loves lacks in nothing towards the one whom he loves. And he instructs us gently, not obliging us to read and to understand the entire law — which the weak and the ignorant would not be able to do — but instead reed ing the whole to six lines.” (Note 3)
“Let us adore eternal truth in this admirable abridgment of the law. … When, to give my mind its suitable exercise, I read the rest of your Scriptures, then to precepts will be the thread that leads me through all the difficulties of that profound book. They will resolve and untangle every difficulty.” (Note 4)
“love does not live on words, nor can it be explained by words — love is proved in deeds. … Never think that a small action done to your neighbor is not worth much. it is not how much we do that is pleasing to God, but how much love we put into the doing. That is what the good God looks for — because God is love and God made us in the divine image to love and to be loved.” (Note 5)
The readings and meditations today are about love 00 it is what carries throughout all of the teachings of Jesus. Love, then love some more. Bossuet says that Jesus sums up all of the law and teachings of the prophets in the lines of love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. But we also see in the scriptures where Jesus says, “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). I think that defines the love we are supposed to have better than loving your neighbor as yourself. Quite often we don’t love ourselves. Think about all the times we are upset with ourselves and abuse ourselves — drugs, alcohol, regret, remorse, up all night crying, cutting, loss of self esteem and self worth. When Jesus tell us to love one another as he has loved us, he is telling us to love like God loves us. I think since he said it to his disciples, he was making a particular exhortation to the church, especially when he says, “by this all men will know that you are my disciples” (Jn 13:35). This is an exhortation that the church has lots of difficulty with — and by “the church” I mean its members because we are the church, the body of Christ, the disciples of Christ. We often times don’t love our neighbor, or even our fellow disciples of Christ. We treat them with no love, we hurl insults at them and treat them without dignity 00 the very thing the church is so adamant about protecting. Even if they sin, they still deserve dignity and love. We are all sinners, do we note want and deserve love and dignity, too?
Love one another, as Christ has loved you — that is our responsibility as disciples of Christ. Don’t refuse to do it and hide behind judgment for sin. It is not our place to make that judgment. We can say the sin is bad, but we have no authority and no right as disciples of Christ, inheritors of His great love, to hate the person who is sinning. If that were the case, then God would hate us — and we know that He doesn’t. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass… .” Judging a sinner and treating him or her with disdain is not forgiving them. And if we do not forgive them, then we, too will not be forgiven. It’s all about love. We have to give it to receive it. If we deny dignity to our fellow man, deny love to our fellow man because we do not like their sin, then God will deny His love to us.
Love one another as Christ has loved you.
1. Bishop Robert Barron to Mailing List, “Lenten Gospel Reflection (03/24/2017)”, personal e-mail (24 March 2017).
2. Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Lent, trans. Christopher O. Blum (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2013), 92-93.
3. Bossuet, Meditations, 93.
4. Bossuet, Meditations, 94
5. Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “Love is Show [sic] in Deeds”. In Renewing Our Discipleship, Daily Reflections on the 2017 Lenten Readings for Mass, ed. Steve Mueller (St Louis, MO: All Saints Press, 2017), 24.