“I give you a new commandment: love one another.” Years ago I read a commentary on this line written by St. Augustine and he had a really great observation: this is not a new commandment. Do you remember that other Gospel scene, where the young man asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is? “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind… [and] you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Love your neighbor as yourself wasn’t something Jesus gave us, that was something that he quoted from the Old Testament. So this new command he speaks about today must be about something more than just loving others if it’s going to actually be a new commandment.
And it very much is, because Jesus continues the thought. “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” The new command we have received is to love as Jesus loved. How did Jesus love? Without any gain to be had for himself, he entered this world and took on human flesh… he chose to be with the poor, the sick, and the sinners… he washed his disciples feet and called them his friends… and he willingly entered into the suffering of his Passion. Nothing he did was for his own benefit; everything he did was for the benefit of others, and the benefit of us.
His commandment is to now go forth and do the same. If you are his disciple then the purpose of your life is not you. Think about what that means for a minute. What would it mean if you made decisions and did not take into account your own interests? How would you spend your time if it wasn’t yours to spend? And remember that this isn’t the ideal that wins you high praise, it is the expectation. How many of us have learned to live for even one other person, to forget ourselves as we offer them everything? Spouses, maybe. Parents, hopefully. But to have that love for everyone? That’s hard. To love as Christ has loved is a hard commandment.
So I direct you to the second reading. “Behold, I make all things new.” The One upon the throne in the vision that St. John saw… he is making all things new. A new heavens, a new earth, a new heart within you! The commandment to love as Christ has loved is hard, sounds impossible even… but not if someone beyond ourselves gives us new hearts… not if our heart is made new in the image of the heart of Christ. Every Sunday you are told to lift up your hearts to the Lord. Lift them up today and pray that he takes them and returns to you his own instead.
And after you have done that… something else to ask of God too. This morning seven men were ordained priests, made new as they give up their lives for others. One of them went to grade school here, Fr. Joshua Trefeny. He was also here tonight / last night hearing confessions before mass, in this church where he made is own first reconciliation years ago. Pray that he never forget the new commandment Christ gave us today.
“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.“
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.