FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
(White) Cycle C/Year II (April 24, 2016)
Acts 14:21-27/Rev 21:1-5a/Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35
It is said that the “Last Will and Testament” is a letter in which a person, usually dying, communicates his final wishes especially regarding his possessions. Because it is the will of a dying person, it is almost always respected and fulfilled. Christ’s last will and testament or farewell commandment is expressed in the gospel this Sunday. He is going to Jerusalem with His disciples where He will be offering His life on the cross for the salvation of the world when He gives His directive: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34). Because it is a command of a dying man, it must be a serious commandment that constitutes the essence of His disciples. Christians are the ones who love one another. Such commandment then must be fulfilled seriously by His followers.
Ever since the existence of humanity, there is already the feeling of love. It is understandable since human being is created in the image and likeness of God who is love and that it is created by God out of His outpouring love. Because of this, a human person is called to love and to live his life in love. This is essentially the basic nature of a human person.
However, sin affected the life of a human person especially his act of love. Often times, man’s love is not a real love but a selfish love. Man loves things, persons or deeds because they make him happy or they serve him in one way or another. This is the selfish kind of love which is generally practiced in all times by majority of human beings.
Jesus, in the gospel, introduces another kind of love, a love that is not selfish or self-centered but rather God-centered. What makes His commandment of love new is that we have to love the way He loves us. Jesus showed His love for us on the cross, by offering His life for our sake and for our salvation. On the cross, Jesus bore all the sufferings which we should have endured and forgave us of all our sinfulness that caused Him to suffer on the cross. His love is selfless, other-centered and even God-centered.
Jesus commands us seriously to love one another the way He loves us. There is a need for us to love our neighbors and even our enemies the way Jesus loved us on the cross: selflessly, sacrificially, understandingly and forgivingly. We have to love them without thinking of anything that they can do for us or serve us. We have to love them by sacrificing for them because true love demands sacrifice just as the way parents love their children. We have to love them by understanding their situations in life and by accepting who they are. And we have to love them by forgiving them of their offenses to us or to our loved ones without thinking of vengeance or revenge.
Indeed to love is the essence of our human nature. There is no need to command this to us because it is our tendency, longing and fulfillment. Jesus’ command is not simply to love but to love the way He loves us. Because of our erroneous concept of love, Jesus redirects us to the true way of love, a Christian love, a divine love. It is loving others for the sake of them, for the love of Christ and for the glory of God.