5th Sunday of Easter (Fr. Simham)
TO LOVE AS JESUS LOVED
The message that stands out from today’s readings is the new commandment that Jesus gives to his disciples. And the commandment is ‘to love as Jesus loved.’ Our immediate reaction to this is: How can we possibly love as Jesus loved? After all, Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, the Saviour, the perfect one, the sinless one, the one who was truly human but truly divine man. So, how can we possibly love as Jesus loved?
However, if we look at gospels,—the way Jesus loved — we may realize that the living out of this commandment is indeed within our reach here and now. The excuse: BUT THAT WAS JESUS cannot be employed. So it would be a good idea to remind ourselves today about the simplicity and the beauty of this commandment.
How did Jesus love?
- Jesus was moved with pity and compassion when he encountered those in need. Many miracles performed by Jesus in the Gospels are preceded with the observation of Jesus being moved with pity. We may not be able to perform such miracles; however we can open our hearts, our minds and out treasure to help those in need. We can allow ourselves to feel fully the anxiety of those in need and respond. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.
- Jesus was moved to tears in the midst of sadness. He openly shed tears at the tomb of Lazarus. He shed tears over the city of Jerusalem. He allowed himself to feel the loss of a loved one and responded with love. We may not be able to raise a loved one from the dead, but we can allow ourselves to feel fully the sadness of loss and respond by loving the living and share their grief. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.
- Jesus loved by serving others, by helping others and by healing others. Not even foot-washing was beneath Jesus. Jesus tells us that to be first we must make ourselves last. No task is too small, too menial or too big to the one who is loving. We love by serving our brothers and sisters in down-to-earth, practical ways. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.
- Jesus did not condemn, but he also did not condone. This is exemplified in his words to the woman caught in the act of adultery — Then neither do I condemn you, BUT go and sin no more. To love someone who has sinned is not to condemn them, but rather it is to forgive them and challenge them in a constructive, concrete way. Love seeks to heal, to build up, to challenge and to inspire. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.
- Jesus was concerned about the needs of those who find themselves alone and lonely. Jesus raised from the dead the son of the widow not out of pity for the deceased son, but out of pity for the mother who will be left alone and unprotected by the culture in which she lived. Jesus also delivered instructions from the cross itself to the beloved disciple to look after His own mother, Mary, after he dies on the cross. Jesus was concerned for her well-being. To love someone is to care for his or her daily, practical needs and to provide security and safety. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.
- Jesus saves the bride and groom embarrassment at Cana and cooks breakfast for some of the disciples in his post-resurrection body on the shore of sea of Galilee. Jesus is concerned about the feelings of people and the real hunger created by a hard night of work. To love someone is to care about his or her feelings and to provide a single meal when someone is hungry. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.
And above all, Jesus sacrificed his life for us out of love. Even that is not impossible. However, most of us will never be called to show our love to such an extent of giving one‘s life. But still, the reality of sacrifice touches all our lives. Parents greatly sacrifice for their children. Spouses sacrifice for each other. Oftentimes grown up children show great sacrifices in caring for their elderly parents. Priests, ministers, and religious brothers and sisters make sacrifices in living out of their ministerial lives and promises. To love is oftentimes to sacrifice. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.
I am sure that you can come up with many more examples from scripture. These are but a few. In the end, we see that the commandment given to us from Jesus is something we can follow and obey. We are asked to love as Jesus loved in the ordinary living of our lives. This is how people will know we are disciples of Christ.
Fr. Showreelu Simham