Jesus is the proof that God loves us. Sent by God, he teaches us to love. He makes love the Christians’ distinctive mark and the means of salvation.
Judas leaves so as to carry out fully the betrayal. And this treasonous leave is a distinctive sign that Jesus’ hour has come.
In fact, the Teacher plainly says to his disciple that he will be with them only a little longer. And a little earlier he has spoken also of his glory, which means his death (Jn 12, 23-24. 32-33). His glory, that is to say, what makes him stand out and worthy of praise, is his death on the cross. For dying on the cross, he stands out and draws glances and praises due to his love to the end.
It is clear, yes, that Jesus is saying good-bye to his disciples. And like a father who is about to die, he speaks tenderly, and makes a will.
That is why he calls them his children. He also makes known to them his last wish. And he lays it out before them as a new commandment: that they love one another as he has loved them. Such love will be their distinctive mark; by it shall they be known as his disciples.
Our distinctive mark and means of salvation: love that is practical, inventive and self-emptying
Others know us as Christians not so much by saying that we love as by doing works of love. That is to say, love has more to do with deeds than with words (SV.EN XI:32). Our saying that we of love means nothing if we do not do what we say; fine words butter no parsnips (1 Jn 3, 18).
But to make sure that we truly love, it is enough for us, in the first place, to listen to Jesus’ Good News. And, in the second place, to follow his example.
He goes about to do good (Acts 10, 38); he preaches and cures diseases and illnesses (Mt 4,23). This, yes, is a distinctive trait of his. After all, he seeks first God’s kingdom and justice. He wants a world that measures up to what God wants. That is to say, a world that is more just, more truthful. A world of fellowship, a world fit for men and women whom God made in his image.
And to love in a practical way as Jesus also means to be saved from the evils, the bad fruit, that selfishness bears. It is to feel and taste even here on earth how good God is that dwells with us.
But we still face many evils before we enter God’s kingdom. Hence, our love has to be as inventive too as that of our Teacher (SV.EN XI:131). And as self-emptying to the end, to the giving up of the body and the shedding of blood. Might this mean we have to have the Good News in one hand and the daily news in the other hand?
Lord Jesus, pour out on us your Spirit that makes all things new. Let him make us true witnesses to the love that is the distinctive mark of those who follow you.
15 May 2022
Fifth Sunday of Easter (C)
Acts 14, 21-27; Rev 21, 1-5a; Jn 13, 31-33a. 34-35